Silent Revolution Series

Emotion
Seduction and
Intimacy
Alternative Perspectives on
Organisation Behaviour

First Edition

© Dr Rory Ridley-Duff, 2006
Social Exchange Ltd

Edited by Dr Poonam Thapa
Kama Leela Ltd
Published by Men’s Hour Books, 2007

© Dr Rory Ridley-Duff, 2006
All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this
publication may be made without written permission except as
defined below.
No material may be reused except in accordance with the
provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, or
under the terms of any licence permitting limited copying issued
by the Copyright Licensing Agency, 90 Tottenham Court Road,
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Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this
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for damages.
Rory Ridley-Duff has asserted his right to be identified as the
author of this work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs
and Patents Acts 1988.
Commissioned by Social Exchange Ltd, www.socialexchange.org.
Social Exchange Logo by Natasha Ridley-Duff.
ISBN-10: 0-9754300-1-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-9754300-1-9

Published by Men’s Hour Books, the world's first true men's
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Email: sales@menshourbooks.com
Printed in England by Antony Rowe Ltd, Eastbourne

Also by Rory Ridley-Duff
from Men’s Hour Books
Friends or Lovers
For every man who has lost love, and every woman who
is searching for it…
Penny Leyton is one smart sexy woman on her way to the top.
Bridget Jones she certainly is not, but she has the same chaotic
approach to romance. Just as she is breaking through the glass
ceiling, her boss Dave Stockton hints at a workplace scandal.
Ablaze with moral outrage, Penny realises too late that one of her
own friends is implicated and that she herself is part of the
problem. Can she untangle herself from a hidden web of intrigue
and save herself?
"When Rory first sent me his book to review, I sent him my advice for a
happy life - always be in the pursuit of pleasure. One of the things I said
was that I looked to men to be my friends and lovers but preferably not
at the same time - good friends are forever, good lovers not necessarily
so. I remember his response well. He said he could not imagine marrying
anyone who he did not already consider his best friend. I, on the other
hand, think everybody should be married once and then have the good
fortune to get out! Rory swears by his marriage. I enjoy my exchanges
with Rory and find many of his thoughts provocative. Friends or
Lovers does not just explore and critique the combustible situations that
ignite the workplace, it dares to celebrate them. This novel is the story of
a women standing on the edge of the precipice of her life, her humanity
long lost. Will she take the right track in the face of adversity? It is now
for me to know and for you the reader to find out... Here is a clue...
there is affinity, lots of adventure and wonderful banter. Anyone who
cares about love will give this book to a friend or lover, partner or
spouse, sister or brother".

Dr Poonam Thapa
Gender, Culture and Sexual Health Expert
Available August 2007

Contents

Contents
Introduction .................................................................................i
Acknowledgements........................................................................... i
Foreword - Dr Poonam Thapa...........................................................iii
Foreword – Caroline Ridley-Duff .......................................................iv
Rory’s Response..............................................................................vi
Winning and Losing...............................................................vii
The Story So Far… ............................................................... viii
The Science of Emotion ..........................................................xi
My Personal Concerns and Interests .......................................xii
The Structure of the Book ...............................................................xv

Chapter 1 – In the Beginning……. ............................................1
Overview ........................................................................................ 1
A Perspective on Sexism .................................................................. 3
No Sex Please – We’re British!................................................. 7
Setting the Agenda for Equality ............................................... 9
To the Reader...................................................................... 11

Chapter 2 – What are Emotions? ............................................16
Overview ...................................................................................... 16
Emotional Knowledge .................................................................... 20

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Pavlov’s Dogs .......................................................................21
The Three Key Areas of the Brain...........................................23
Stories of Emotional Intelligence ............................................24
Some Personal Stories...........................................................27
Emotional Defence and Emotion Management.........................28
Emotion, Blame and Social Status ..........................................30
Emotion and Perception ........................................................31
Emotion and Sense-Making....................................................33
Emotional Sensitivity and Performance ...................................35
Summary ......................................................................................36

Chapter 3 - Friendship and Flirting........................................ 39
Introduction ..................................................................................39
What is Seduction? ........................................................................42
Defining Seduction and Intimacy............................................49
Seduction and Emotion .........................................................52
Seduction in Business.....................................................................53
Summarising the Seduction Process.................................................56
Defining Intimacy .................................................................57
Corporate Seduction.......................................................................60
Perspectives on Culture Management .....................................60
Contradictions in Corporate Seduction ....................................61
Recruitment .........................................................................62
The Effects of Supply and Demand.........................................65
Induction .............................................................................66
Formal Company Events........................................................68
Consultations .......................................................................69
Seduction in the Sales Process ........................................................71

Contents

What Happens if the Seduction Fails?.............................................. 74
The Paradox of ‘Caring’......................................................... 75
Management Knowledge and Seduction ................................. 77
Summary...................................................................................... 78

Chapter 4 - Control and Discipline ........................................85
Overview ...................................................................................... 85
Why Control and Discipline? ........................................................... 89
Threats to Equity and Reciprocity ................................................... 92
Stories of Discipline and Control ..................................................... 93
Hearing the Characters Speak for Themselves ........................ 96
Brenda and Ben on Each Other ............................................. 97
Feelings and Motives During Disciplining ........................................104
Diane’s Motives...................................................................105
Brenda’s Motives.................................................................106
Harry’s Motives ...................................................................106
Ben’s Motives......................................................................107
Some Thoughts on the Conflict ............................................108
The Impacts of Disciplining ..................................................109
Social Influence During Disputes....................................................110
A Second Case .............................................................................112
Exploring the Company History.............................................113
The Dynamics of Discipline and Control ..........................................118
An Alternative ..............................................................................121
The Mondragon Cooperatives...............................................122
The Impacts of Mondragon’s Governance System ..................126
Summary.....................................................................................128

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Chapter 5 – Leaders and Followers ..................................... 132
Introduction ................................................................................ 132
The Five Components of Power ..................................................... 140
Bottom Up and Top Down Leaders ................................................ 141
Debating the Process of Leadership...................................... 144
Laughter Dynamics ............................................................. 146
Hazing and Harassment ...................................................... 148
The Power of Passivity ........................................................ 150
Definitional Problems with ‘Harassment’................................ 152
A Second Case............................................................................. 154
An Alternative Explanation................................................... 157
Reconsidering the Nature of Leadership................................ 160
Summary .................................................................................... 162

Chapter 6 – Sexual Conflict.................................................. 166
Introduction ................................................................................ 166
A Story of Sexual Conflict ............................................................. 167
First Cause for Concern ....................................................... 171
Banter Over Lunch.............................................................. 172
The End Game ................................................................... 174
Management Intervention ................................................... 176
Obtaining Legal Advice........................................................ 179
The Legal Position .............................................................. 180
Discussion.......................................................................... 182
The Impact of the Women’s Movement ................................ 184
Confronting the Double-Standard .................................................. 185
The Double-Standard – A Personal Journey........................... 190

Contents

From Personal to Professional ..............................................192
The Reaction to Raising Concerns.........................................194
The Current State of the Gender Equality Debate...................196
Controlling ‘People Like Phil’ ..........................................................196
The Roots of the Double-Standard........................................198
Obstacles to Resolving Sexual Conflicts ..........................................199
Are Men ‘Naturally’ Violent? .................................................200
Cultural Images of Violence During Courtship ........................201
The Impact of Beliefs about Violence ....................................203
The “Problem” of Courtship..................................................204
Impacts on Gender Conflict..................................................205
The Level of Truthful Allegations ..........................................207
How Can Managers Respond? ..............................................207
Summary.....................................................................................208

Chapter 7 – Coping Strategies..............................................214
An Introduction ............................................................................214
The Impacts of Intimacy at Work...................................................216
Carol and Richard................................................................218
Tackling the Intimacy “Problem”...........................................220
The Hypocrisy of “Professionalism” .......................................223
Secrecy and Power..............................................................224
Harassment ........................................................................225
The Centrality of Sexuality ............................................................226
Patterns in the Data ............................................................228
The Case for Change ....................................................................231
New Approaches to Handling Conflict....................................232
The Case for Mediation........................................................234

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Compulsion and Conflict ...................................................... 235
Broader Political Issues................................................................. 236
Leaders, Performers and Followers....................................... 240
Powerful Relationships are Tolerant...................................... 242

Chapter 8 - Closing Thoughts…. ......................................... 247
Conclusions ................................................................................. 247

Appendix A – Body Language ............................................. 249
Introduction ................................................................................ 249
Speech Code ............................................................................... 252
Vocal Code ................................................................................. 256
Body Language Code ................................................................... 259
Facial Code.................................................................................. 264

Bibliography, References and Recommended Reading .... 268
For Those With a Casual or Professional Interest ............................ 268
For Those With a Strong or Academic Interest................................ 270

Index....................................................................................... 276

Introduction
Acknowledgements
All books are collective enterprises with the author taking the
lead. This one is no different. My thanks must go to all the
people who have touched my life in a way that informs this book,
and particularly to those who have read, fed back and argued
about its contents with me. I want to take this opportunity to
thank you all. Special thanks are due to a number of people.
Firstly, my wife Caroline, who has ridden with me through the
ups and downs of life. Her contribution to this book goes far
deeper than the words on the page. She has her own stories to
tell and hearing them over the years has been integral to my
understanding of how relationships in the workplace reach into all
parts of our lives.
To Poonam, my muse in business, I owe both a personal and
professional debt. On a personal level, she has shown unstinting
faith that I am “an honest sort” with something worthwhile to
say. On a professional level, she has given tremendous support
to the perspectives articulated in my earlier work and this book
takes us both closer to making dreams come true.
Professors John Cullen and Phil Johnson deserve a mention for
their guidance and insights into the material presented here,
particularly with regard to social control and workplace culture.
Minna Leinonen pointed me to the work of Jeff Hearn and Wendy
Parkin, and followed this by building my confidence by writing
with me on gender issues. Her contribution created more
balance in my thinking. Stephen Robinson deserves credit for
reading and raising issues in the early drafts of Chapters 1-5,
while Jane and Andrew Cook’s thoughtful contribution to the
discussion on defining seduction more positively (Chapter 3)
deserves appreciation.
My children, Natasha and Bethany,
allowed me to share stories about our family life in ways that
show how deeply our feelings underpin attempts to control or
hurt others.

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

My thanks to Raymond Cuttill for accepting the challenge of
publishing this book. Publishing a text that questions prevailing
wisdom on gender issues is a frustrating and occupationally
dangerous activity. I am grateful for your support on this and
other projects.
My life has been a rich and varied one – there are so many
people that I cannot name them all. There are a few personal
friends, however, who I would like to acknowledge for developing
my thinking on the matters in this book.
My love to:
Helen Peters, Richard Churches, Angela Howes, Clare Byrne,
Iain and Marianne Carnegie, Sabine Maier, Steve Anscombe,
Phil Cole,
Karen
Smith,
Lawrence Clare,
Lyndsey Maw,
Suzy Brookes and Mike Haywood.

Introduction

iii

Foreword - Dr Poonam Thapa
Definitely “an honest sort” and more….
In my book, Rory is a man who has deliberately chosen the
left-hand path of progress. He does not shun the moral maze of
human desires and passions but brings greater understanding to
that very facet of life - the forbidden fruit that made us fall from
grace - and its role in our emancipation.
I will be the first to admit it is a tough world out there.
Ask yourself who makes it tough? Could it be those of us who
are motivated by advancing pain instead of the pursuit of
pleasure? A sympathy for our own gender can make us less
discerning when it comes to truth. Having worked my way up
from a lowly research assistant to associate professorship to a
senior manager in a large international charity, I have
experienced powerlessness and power. I have in my younger
days been at the receiving end of what could be construed as
sexual harassment from no less than an esteemed teacher.
I have also seen innocent men destroyed by false accusations.
I know patriarchy – I was rooted in it for two decades in a
little city on the edge of the world. Studies in gender provide one
with some ideals, but rarely tell you the reality. As for “options”,
what exactly is that? The media mostly adds to the confusion.
Raunchiness gets confused with ‘better’ equality.
So who made the difference to me? It was me. I chose to
confront and fight my own personal battles with men and not rely
on institutions, the pecking order within it or let my sympathetic
peers to do it for me. Furthermore, as a Freidan feminist,
I refuse to paint all men with the same brush and, most
importantly, never cry wolf.
This means when it comes to sexual harassment I am a
sceptic. I know there are genuine cases which call for serious
action and I hope the victim wins such cases whatever their sex.
But it is my own gender in the Western World that is slowly
turning me into a cynic. Do we see the harm they do to the
sisterhood? Do we even care? Thank God there are not too
many of those in the West or East!

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Women with any sense of humour, self-esteem or a zest for
life will not confuse a simple email, banter or a bit of flirtation
with sexual harassment. If you can’t tell the difference, what are
you doing? Where are you learning to develop moral judgement?
It is even more pathetic to run to other men to save our skin. If
we are brave, we will face up to the truth and in most cases
come out the winner. Why?
Because we will have a better
appreciation of how to enjoy the natural sexual tension that is
often misconstrued as the “battle of the sexes”. One must rise by
that which one falls! Those very aspects of human nature which
binds us as men and women can be stepping stones to our
liberation at home and at work.
As someone who has struggled for decades to win women
rights across several cultures, I believe that paradoxical situations
we face in life are indispensable to our training as free women.
Our breath and voice, our love and excitement, are our humanity.
Time and false political correctness does not make what we feel
obsolete. And what do I feel – great affection for men whether
my father, my brothers, my friends, my teachers, my lovers, my
sons and my colleagues - are central to who and what I am
today. Yes, men have thrown me a few curveballs; they can be
detractors and some are insidious (I have no doubt men will say
the same about women). However in the greater scheme of
things it is my relationships, be they with men or women (given
all their ups and downs), that bring joy to my daily graft to earn
my keep.
Do not look to this book for all your answers for “what is here,
is elsewhere; what is not here is nowhere”. Just allow it to
expand your mind and, as you read, weave the wonder that is
your life into some of the experiences that Rory relates so
passionately. Last, but not least, remember each desire seeks its
own conclusion.

Poonam Thapa, June 2006

Gender, Culture and Sexual Health Expert

Foreword – Caroline Ridley-Duff
The situation in my own workplace, which had been emotionally
volatile for many months, came to a head recently when a
colleague was dismissed. When four other people made a stand
on her behalf by refusing to work, they were also given their

Introduction

v

marching orders. This had a huge impact on emotions in the
workplace and our relationships. Everyone was talking about it;
everyone was reacting to it with intense feelings. Many people
felt torn, their loyalties put to the test and some felt forced to
take sides. Many were deeply upset, shocked, afraid for their
own job security, angry, disgusted and even guilty.
Over the years I have tried not to take work too seriously.
When people got stressed about events at work I would point out
to them that nobody ever said on their death bed “I wish I’d
spent more time in the office.” But over the last few weeks, as I
have spoken on the phone to one tearful ex-colleague after
another, trying hard to offer comfort and practical advice as they
come to terms with the loss of their jobs, I realise that perhaps I
was naïve to assume that work was something – if you pardon
the pun – you shouldn’t get worked up about. Some of these
people talked about the loss of income, but what hurt them most
was the feeling that they had been treated unfairly and
misunderstood, that they had been penalised for sticking up for a
friend, and that their grievances hadn’t been listened to.
When I look back over the years there have been so many
times when upsets in Rory’s or my workplace have interrupted
our family life. Once I made a mistake in court that affected the
course of a trial – we had to cope with days of fear as I
wondered if I would lose my job. At times like this Rory had to
hold the home together while I found a way to cope. Sometimes
it would be Rory’s turn to come home in despair, even tears.
During the recession in the early 1990s, a supplier threatened to
wind up his company and several staff – including Rory - had to
borrow money to keep the company going. At times like that I
had to comfort him and hold the home together.
Whether it was me tearing my hair out to fulfil transcript
orders, or shouting at my employer for calling me about work
while on holiday, Rory would usually find ways to support me. At
other times, such as the time he had an employee on the phone
threatening to commit suicide in the middle of the night, I would
try to find ways to relieve the stresses he faced.
I have seen him change over the years from a man blindly
supportive of women, to a man who is now much more selective
in the support he gives. He has been attacked and loved by
women and men for his views about sexual behaviour. Despite
all that has happened, he remains philosophical and generous to

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

those who have hurt him. He does not make everyone happy
with his attitudes, but he remains the most honest and
compassionate man I know, my best friend and the man with
whom I want to grow old.
His greatest strength is his willingness to talk and seek
understanding on every issue. His book contains a wealth of
examples – some from our life, but most from his years of
working experience and studies of the workplace. I am sure you
will find them provocative and thoughtful.
-

Caroline Ridley-Duff, January 2006

Rory’s Response
What can I say? This book is a natural evolution for me after
finishing a study on which I worked full-time for three years. It
was written to take a break from academic writing but as it
developed I found more secrets of life revealing themselves to
me and I quickly got hooked. My emotions were fired as
everything else stopped to finish the text.
The content of the book is purposely aimed at working people,
particularly managers and professionals, who want to understand
how seduction and sexuality are continually used to develop the
relationships upon which business (and families) depend. It may
find favour with a secondary group studying or teaching business,
psychology, philosophy, gender studies, governance, sociology,
human rights, politics and law.
Life is an endless process of probing and searching for
satisfying relationships for the purpose of economic and social
gain. We constantly try to seduce each other for different
reasons. Beyond seduction to satisfy our sexual desires, there
are employers seducing employees (and vice versa), salespeople
seducing customers, consultants seducing clients, advertisers
seducing consumers, writers seducing readers, musicians
seducing listeners, and academics, scientists, religious leaders
and politicians presenting seductive versions of “the truth”.
The book contains stories of seduction in the public workplace
and the impacts on our private emotions. In marriage, families
and committed partnerships, we display our emotions more freely
than at work. Learning to cope with them often leads to the
most durable and meaningful relationships in our lives. Yet, at

Introduction

vii

work, an “inappropriate” display of emotion can land a person in
deep trouble, even result in their sacking or trigger widespread
upheaval in the office. It made me question whether our attitude
to emotions is actually helping business or hurting it.
I have adopted techniques common in social science to
minimise authorial bias.
One method is to focus on
conversations taking place around us, rather than relying on
one-off interviews. Nevertheless, I have my own biases. I write
about issues that interest and concern me first and foremost.
One purpose of this introduction, therefore, is to set out my
concerns to you so that you the reader can assess the extent to
which this impacts on what I say in the book.
My own interest is the way emotion and intimacy drives the
way we govern each other and to organise ourselves into social
groups. By looking at conversations, it is possible to discover that
productive relationships, generally, are far more equitable than
we realise. Only when one party wants to punish the other do
relationships change dramatically. When hostility is triggered,
one party cuts off or alters the way they communicate.
Sometimes they start shaping situations so they can hurt those
who they think have hurt them. When this happens, we discover
how power is organised, because one party is usually able to
punish “the other” more completely and effectively than the other
way around.
The desire to punish is rooted in emotional hurt so a key
objective of this book is to show where emotional hurt comes
from, and the ways that people punish each other when it occurs.
The results, I have no doubt, will shock you and perhaps even
rock your world a bit – at least I hope it does. As a consequence,
a new debate will develop about techniques to investigate
“misbehaviour”, something I consider carefully in the final
chapter.

Winning and Losing
In our closest relationships we learn many things: how to let
others win as a way of developing their confidence; how to win
sometimes so that others learn to deal with the emotions aroused
by losing. Learning to establish a balance between winning and
losing, and teaching others how to cope with winning and losing,

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

is an experience that is quite different from the “win, win, win”
mentality that now pervades workplaces.
Winning is over-rated. Management researchers have long
noted the cycle of rapid business success followed by rapid
business failure. Quick success breeds overconfidence and
arrogance. Moreover, when winning becomes more important
than supporting the development of human life, we start to
undermine the very people who contribute to our own survival.
Sometimes we mindlessly hurt without pause to consider the
long-term consequences, then compound the problems by getting
angry when others react to our own insensitivity. Forgiveness is
a quality much needed, but rarely found, in management
thinking, despite the competitive advantage to be gained through
its adoption.
Failure is not a blot on our character, because in the process
we learn to reflect and develop new ways of thinking. In
personal and social environments, failure is the catalyst for
profound learning out of which develops self-awareness,
tolerance and competitive advantage. When those who fail in the
workplace are sacked rather than supported, we marginalize the
very people who are in the midst of learning the most and who
potentially have the most to contribute to the future. It is this
realisation that has fuelled an interest in the link between ‘no
blame’ management cultures and commercial success1.

The Story So Far…
Interest in emotion was fuelled by the runaway success of Daniel
Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence.2 As is the case with
many popular psychology books, Goleman tends to view emotion
as a product of genetic inheritance and upbringing. Branches of
academia, such as cognitive and evolutionary psychology, also
accept this presumption to understand ‘personality’.
In the social sciences (including business studies) the seminal
works on emotion take a different view. In Stephen Fineman’s
writings, for example, emotion is seen as a outcome of group life,
something that is triggered by changes in our social status and
This theme has been picked up by some
relationships.3
psychiatrists, such as William Glasser in Choice Theory.4
When people are asked to talk about emotions at work, they
do not – unless prompted by researchers or managers – talk
about “job satisfaction” or a desire for “self-fulfilment”. Instead

Introduction

ix

they talk about their relationships with work colleagues, family
and friends. What matters in assessing a person’s emotional
behaviour, therefore, is the situation in the here and now, not
what happened 10 or 20 years ago. The past may influence the
way a person understands and deals with the present, but the
problem to be solved – the feelings that are being experienced –
are in the present situation, not the past.
Arlene Hochschild has documented another feature of
emotional life at work - the way we are encouraged to adopt
emotions when we interact with work colleagues, managers,
clients, customers and suppliers.5 Her concepts link back to
Daniel Goleman but have a different slant. What Goleman calls
‘emotional intelligence’ Hochschild regards as ‘emotional labour’.
Unlike Goleman, who argues that emotional intelligence is
beneficial to us as human beings, Hochschild brings out another
aspect: constantly pretending or withholding emotions
undermines our sense of self, affects our physical health and
undermines our capacity to act morally.
In my own research,6 I show how emotional skills – however
we label them - take individuals into the heart of complex social
networks. Whether in business or politics, in love triangles or
large families, we are drawn to those who trigger positive
emotions in us, and we consider them more desirable and
trustworthy. People find themselves, whether by their own
design, or the manoeuvrings of others, embedded in complex and
intimate relationships.
The way people handle this is an
important dimension of leadership but it is rarely discussed as a
management topic.
My own contribution, therefore, was to demonstrate
scientifically how company governance practices, and the
development of social structures at work, are partly rooted in the
way we handle intimacy and emotionality. Courtship rituals, and
our interests as parents, influence the development of workplace
hierarchies. They have an impact that compares to marketforces, legal regulations and company rules.
Another couple who confront the issue of intimacy are Andrew
and Nada Kakabadse.7 They found that intimacy at work is a
common experience, and the benefits are astonishingly enduring,
often lasting a life-time. After my own study into workplace
culture, I returned to their work and the stories had an even
more profound effect on me. The insights that developed in

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

second reading take form and expression in these pages. In their
conclusions, the Kakabadses talk of a need for people at work,
particularly managers, to develop greater sensitivity so they can
handle intimacy and emotionality more effectively.
This
recommendation was underpinned by a survey finding that only
11% of people at work think relationship issues are handled well,
and that only 2% believe that policy-based approaches to sexual
conflict make a positive contribution.
The recent legislative attempts to bring about improvements
in behaviour by making employers responsible for equality are –
in the eyes of some – making matters much worse. Does it make
sense to make managers legally responsible for preventing the
accidental upset of people at work? A person who accidentally
upsets another can now be sacked if it can be shown that the
effect of their behaviour was intimidating (even if unintended).
Managers can be found guilty of failing to prevent a hostile
environment if they do not remove a person who accidentally
causes another distress.
As I show in this book, a person’s motive may be to show care
for another person or to debate discrimination issues affecting
their own workplace, or just a straightforward positive response
to the other’s obvious interest. The result of legislative change is
that we are developing a culture that frustrates the pursuit of
equality by outlawing the emotionality of intimacy and debate. In
effect, we are knowingly or unknowingly making democracy
illegal.
At the same time, our world is increasingly driven by
intolerance. In politics, we see world leaders ordering troops into
Iraq justified, not on the basis of credible evidence of a threat to
our nation, but to assuage the fears and suspicions of our
leaders. Riots erupt the world over after publication of a
blasphemous cartoon just as ‘democracy’ is established in Iraq.
In our own society, members of religious minorities fear
prosecution for incitement to terrorism for publicly debating how
to respond to their own government bombing members of their
family in other countries (even when a majority of all citizens
opposed the war). We see Labour Party stewards ejecting an
old-age pensioner for holding a political leader to account at a
‘democratic’ conference and then using anti-terror laws to
prevent his further participation.
At work, the result of
‘tightening up’ sexual discrimination legislation is that people can
be demoted or sacked for trying to debate issues of sex

Introduction

xi

discrimination, including something as trivial as choosing not to
wear a tie.
This book, therefore, is a timely contribution that argues why
and how we will benefit by listening to our own and others’
emotions as well as their words. This is a time to develop our
capacity for tolerance and sensitivity. Secondly, I will argue that
during conflict, the priority is to understand the source of emotion
- both in ourselves and others – rather than stamp it out through
authoritarian behaviour, discipline, punishment and exclusion. To
this end, I provide a wealth of stories that will help to understand
the interconnections between different areas of our lives.

The Science of Emotion
Emotions – our own and others’ – have had a raw deal in the
credibility stakes, in both personal and professional worlds, for
around 200 years. In this book, I discuss how science itself is
beginning to establish how emotions underpin our intelligence.
We have an innate ability to be sensitive, and this sensitivity
allows us to discovers ways of thinking that help us to survive.
While the current wave of intolerance is rooted in a global fear
about our collective survival, the fear is rational even if the
reactions to it are not.
As a social scientist, I do not believe anyone can be
completely objective. Even maths – often cited as the purest of
sciences – is a symbolic language. It is an invention by human
beings to represent the world as mathematicians see it. The bias
lies not in its inability to precisely depict what is observed (it does
this rather well) but in the purposes behind particular
observations and the way we report them.
Maths, in principle, is no different from other ways of
representing the world. I explore human existence using other
symbols - words and diagrams. These precisely depict what I
observe - just like the symbols of the mathematician. While they
might be more subtle and ambiguous than mathematical
formulae, they are no less scientific.
The insights and
understandings that words and diagrams have generated over
the centuries compares favourably to the mathematical formulae
of some economists.
Bringing together different worlds – in this case reconciling
neuroscience with anthropology - creates a marriage between the

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

natural and social sciences. As a result, scientific insights are
more profound. It means that a better informed debate can
thrive and each of us can apply what we learn in the here and
now to improve our lives.

My Personal Concerns and Interests
There was a period of intense sadness in the middle of writing
this book. You will read about this in Chapter 6. The sadness
came from realising that 25 years of commitment to equality
counted for nothing when I found myself in the middle of a
dispute. In my teens I felt sympathy for, and actively supported,
the women’s movement for emancipation. My contribution in
adult life was a commitment to listen to women, engage with
them in conversation over gender issues, work with them as
equals, support their technical and emotional development when
able (and they were willing), promote them when they were the
best candidate for the job. I trusted they would do all these
things for me. At times I stood up and challenged sexist and
racist attitudes that limited others’ potential.
I know that by doing so, I did some good. The sadness came
when I tried to do the same for men, and more recently myself.
This process started privately about 10 years ago, but in the
workplace and publicly I did not feel sufficiently confident until
eight years later. By that time, double-standards towards men’s
and women’s behaviour had become so extreme that they
screamed out to be challenged, documented and brought into the
public domain. But I was afraid to speak up. I am, therefore,
grateful to those people, often women, who helped me through
that fear. Speaking up has not been easy and sometimes made
me unpopular.
The double-standards regarding men’s and women’s sexuality
find expression in the workplace. I learnt to my personal cost
that responding to women’s flirty behaviour by engaging in
light-hearted banter can threaten both my career and family.
One female manager was apparently so upset at my joke about
her gender sensitivity, that her employer - a client with whom I
had an unproblematic relationship for half my working life - no
longer felt it could retain my consultancy services.
The following week, I watched Trinny and Susannah tell a
businesswoman on prime time TV “what a great pair of tits
you’ve got, get them out more” to help her promote her business.

Introduction

xiii

Women enjoy media support to use their sexuality in the
workplace while men’s light-hearted sexual jokes (even when
intended to raise gender inequality issues) can put their careers
and marriages at risk.
It prompted me to return to studies I had found on false
claims. I remembered an extensive investigation, with a rigorous
methodology, that investigated over 500 allegations.8 Three
researchers found that 60% of sexual allegations turned out to be
false. The three researchers were so sceptical of the findings
that they did two follow up studies. The 60% figure held. It also
holds in the Kakabadse’s study on the issue of false claims about
sexual harassment. To my surprise, the figure also emerged in a
study of over 2,000 women in 10 cities in a completely different
cultural context. They were asked if they would tell anyone if
they were sexually attracted to a man at work.9 Over half (61%)
would not discuss this with anyone - not even their best friend.
This means that there is a hidden side to sexual harassment
that is important to both women and men, but for different
reasons. As many men have their lives disrupted or destroyed by
false claims as women by actual harassment. In unravelling this,
I also found that the reason for the high percentage of false
allegations is women’s need to hide their (potential) infidelities
from other men. As those studying courtship have found, 93% of
men and 82% of women in long-term relationships claim others
have attempted to seduce them into a new long-term
relationship.10 Other studies show that the majority of sexual
relationships are initiated by women rather than men (the most
reliable research puts this at just under 70%).11
The disparities in men’s and women’s claims are themselves
interesting. Logically for every man who starts a new sexual
relationship with a women, there is a womn who starts one with
a man. Logically, there must be equal numbers of women and
men in committed relationships and marriages. Why then are the
claims of men and women different? This tells its own story.
It turns out that it is exceptional, rather than normal, to be
committed to life-long fidelity. Men and women, however, differ
in their desire for affairs and new relationships.
In a
cross-cultural study of 37 countries it was found that women
typically desire about 5 sexual relationships in a lifetime while
men desire 18 (this is, of course, completely different from what
Women have developed extraordinarily
actually occurs).12

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

sophisticated ways to hide their activities, while men are less
concerned.
Evolutionary psychologists explain the differences in terms of
genetic desires for sex (amongst men) and wealth (amongst
women).13 My own view is different – that each sex attempts to
restore equality created by other cultural inequalities. Men’s
supposed greater desire for sex can be understood as a response
to the way women withhold sex to seduce men (to obtain wealth
and security they would otherwise not have). Women’s supposed
greater desire for wealth can be understood as a response to the
way men withhold it until a woman will consent to sex (to obtain
the pleasures they would otherwise not have).
Germaine Greer writes in the introduction to The Female
Eunuch that women should withhold sex from men until they are
prepared to commit (to the relationship).14 Derek Vitalio writes in
Seduction Science that men should withhold dating (i.e. a
relationship) from women until they are prepared to commit (to
The most seductive behaviour, each argues, is to
sex).15
withhold what the other most desires until confident that the
relationship will be equitable. Bring these attitudes together,
however, and it is obvious that no good relationship can develop
between two people with such attitudes. To propagate such
views is, as Warren Farrell claims, a programme for divorce
training.
Differences do resurface again and again, during courtship
and particularly when children are born because our biological
roles force us to take different perspectives and divide our labour
(at least in the short term). After children are born, it is men
who obsess about wealth, and women who obsess about sex.16
Each has to cope with a deficiency created by roles that are
sometimes forced on us by family and institutional pressures.
Men tend to intensify their commitment to work colleagues while
women take refuge in romance novels and friendship networks.
Both struggle to cope with the loss of intimacy created by the
demands of childraising.17
Ironically, as will be slowly revealed in this book, the most
productive and pleasurable relationships occur when we do not
withhold from “the other” and fight against these cultural
pressures to restore equity. This applies as much to work
colleagues, and employer/employee relationships, as men and
women in sexual relationships. Unravelling this paradox is
difficult but worthwhile because the pursuit of sexual

Introduction

xv

emancipation is simultaneously the pursuit for social and
economic democracy. Equitable relationships turn out to be
strongly linked to workplace efficiency and the highest levels of
productivity, as well as seduction and emotional satisfaction.18

The Structure of the Book
The book is driven by personal stories – both my own and those
who have touched my life, as well as people who have
participated in academic research. The stories from my personal
life are told by the people themselves. Stories from research
studies and work experiences are, for the most part, reported by
fictional characters. Given the sensitivity of the discussions, it is
necessary to protect the privacy and identity of the people who
divulged their feelings on deeply personal issues.
All the
quotations, however, contain the words of real people reacting to
real-life situations – nothing in these pages is an invention.
Interspersed with these personal accounts is discussion of
issues that create debate amongst managers and academics.
These are drawn from books and studies on emotion,
organisation behaviour, intimacy and sexual behaviour. These
appear throughout, sometimes inset into the main text on the left
hand side of the page. Their purpose is to offer provocative
findings that stimulate reflection and debate. The books and
studies from which these are drawn have been included in two
bibliographies (for the casual and serious reader).
The book is organised into 7 chapters. Each chapter builds on
the previous one to deepen understanding and develop
management learning. Chapter 1 sets out to shake up taken-forgranted assumptions about the value and role of emotions, as
well as offering new perspectives on sexual stereotypes. In
Chapter 2 (What are Emotions?), the role and purpose of
emotions is examined from a variety of perspectives. These are
contrasted with oft-quoted views that emotions are a problematic
inheritance threatening the modern organisation with “irrational”
behaviour. Emotions are far from irrational, but can still have
unpredictable and destructive outcomes. Understanding their
role and purpose helps develop new approaches to management.
In Chapter 3 (Friendship and Flirting) the focus changes to
seduction. I offer a series of stories about relationship formation
then build a framework to help understand how seduction is a

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

process by which people make commitments to emotionally safe
relationships. It examines how “couples” form relationships: men
and women, business colleagues, employer and employee,
supplier and customer. Particular attention is given to the role of
reciprocal, enjoyable (but often silent) behaviours.
Seldom does a day go by without a politician or media figure
discussing the need to create discipline in our society.
Criminologists, however, have a collective despair about both
prisons and the criminal justice system. In Chapter 4 (Control
and Discipline), I add to this debate by examining the impact of
disciplining others. Attempts to control others can have sideeffects that help neither party. On this part of the journey we
see how relationships are broken when we do not wish to
continue them; how we discipline others to avoid personal
responsibility; how we blame others to maintain a positive
self-image.
The propensity to build up leaders into celebrities, with
expectations that they should be all-knowing and all-seeing is a
practice beloved of the modern media and culture. In Chapter 5
(Leaders and Followers), the reality of leadership is shown to be
quite different. Are leaders the strongest members of a group or
the weakest? Might they more realistically be regarded as
followers? A review of the role of laughter, humour and
misbehaviour points us to the surprising and complex relationship
between leaders and followers.
Our most powerful feelings are sexual. Occasionally, an
uneasy and fragile consensus is shattered by a complex network
of desires. On other occasions our desires underpin strong
relationships that build whole communities.
The way we
understand sexuality and gender relations has changed so much
that new notions of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour have
impacted on men and women at work. The double-standards
that still exist in modern life, and the disturbing research findings
that are fuelling attempts to redress these inequalities, are
exposed in chapter 6 (Sexual Conflict).
In the final chapter (Coping Strategies), I reflect on the
long-term benefits of intimacy in the workplace, and outline
strategies to create a stimulating, productive and tolerant
organisation. I also argue for a different conception of power, as
something that is embedded within, and expressed through,
relationships rather than people. People are not powerful on
their own – they are powerful in relation to other people. It is

Introduction

xvii

our capacity for intimacy, therefore, that enables groups of
people to build powerful organisations. If one party stops
listening or acting on the other’s wishes, the “power” of both is
taken away because the relationship no longer exists in a
meaningful way. The organisation is also weakened.
By taking this perspective, a path opens up to address social
cohesion problems and community relationship issues that affect
our modern world.
Instead of destroying communities by
focussing too heavily on financial stability through authoritarian
approaches to control and governance, we can begin to
reintroduce a balance between personal values and professional
power that conceives management as a means to an end, but not
an end in itself. Organisations, as well as relationships between
men and women, thrive when there is a pulsating peace rather
than a worn out war.
-

Rory Ridley-Duff, January 2006

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Notes on the Introduction
1

Clutterbuck, D., Megginson, D (2005) Making coaching work: Creating
a coaching culture, London, CIPD. In the 64 steps towards a coaching
culture, the development of a ‘no blame’ mentality is considered
paramount.

2

Goleman, D. (1996) Emotional Intelligence, London: Bloomsbury
Publishing.

3

Fineman, S (ed) (2000) Emotion in Organizations, 2nd edn, Sage
Publications.

4

Glasser, W. (1998) Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal
Freedom, Harper Perennial.

5

Hochschild, A. R. (1998) “Sociology of emotion as a way of seeing” in
G. Bendelow and S. J. Williams (eds) Emotions in Social Life, London:
Routelege.

6

Ridley-Duff, R. J. (2005) Communitarian Perspectives on Corporate
Governance, Sheffield Hallam University.

7

Kakabadse, A., Kakabadse, N. (2004) Intimacy: International Survey
of the Sex Lives of People at Work, Palgrave.

8

McDowell, P. (1985) “False Allegations”, Forensic Science Digest,
11(4): 64.

9

See India Today (2003) Sex and the Indian Woman, September Cover
Story.

10

Schmitt, D. P., Buss, D. M. (2001) “Human mate poaching: Tactics
and temptations for infiltrating existing relationships”, Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 80: 894-918.

11

Moore, M. (1985) ‘Nonverbal Courtship Patterns in Women: Contact
and Consequences’, Ethnology and Sociobiology, 6: 237-247. The
author estimates that 66% of relationships are initiated non-verbally
by women, considerably less than the 90% claimed by populist writers
on sexual behaviour (e.g. Pease, A., Pease, B. (2004), The Definitive
Book of Body Language, Orion, p. 290.)

12

See Buss, D. M., Abbott, M., Angleitner, A., Biaggio, A., BlancoVillasenor, A., BruchonSchweittzer, M. [& 45 additional authors]
(1990). “International preferences in selecting mates: A study of 37

Introduction

xix

societies”, Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, 21: 5-47. See also,
Buss D. M., Schimitt, D. P. (1993) “Sexual strategies theory: An
evolutionary perspective on human mating”, Psychological Review,
100: 204-232.
13

Buss, D. M. (2002) “Human Mating Strategies”, Samdunfsokonemen,
4 - 2002: 48-58

14

Greer, G. (1999) The Female Eunuch, Flamingo.

15

Vitalio, D. (2005) Seduction Science, www.seductionscience.com.

16

Farrell, W. (1986) Why Men Are The Way They Are, London, Bantam
Books, Chapters 4, 5, 6 (“Why are Men So Preoccupied with Sex and
Success”, “Why Men Don’t Listen”, “Why Are Men So Afraid of
Commitment”).

17

Farrell, W. (2000) Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say, New York,
Tarcher/Putnam, pp. 193-195. Romance novels account for 40% of
all paperback sales and have a readership that is 98% female.

18

Adams, J. S. (1965) “Inequity in Social Exchanges” in Berkowitz (ed.)

Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, New York, Academic
Press, 2: 67-300. See also Whyte, W. F., Whyte, K. K. (1991) Making
Mondragon, New York: ILR Press/Itchaca and Turnbull, S. (1994)
“Stakeholder Democracy: Redesigning The Governance of Firms and
Bureaucracies”, Journal of Socio-Economics, 23(3): 321-360.

Chapter 1 – In the Beginning…….
Overview
The workplace is full of emotion, nearly all of it rooted in figuring
out how to cope with the relationships needed to fulfil corporate
and personal goals. The two quotes below illustrate different
types of emotion at work, each rooted in an aspect of life that is
central to our existence.
“[The meetings] were chaos. We would stay there for hours,
ironing out the issues, until we came to something…At times,
the meetings would get so violent that people almost went
across the table at each other…people yelled. They waved
their arms around and pounded on tables. Faces would get
red and veins bulged out.” 1
The quote describes meetings between managers and
technicians in one of the most successful companies of modern
times. As in other ‘great’ companies, emotional displays and
heated debate are a common and recurring finding – something
that contrasts sharply with the calm and disciplined behaviour
expected by leaders of less ‘successful’ organisations. Why do
company members sometimes get so emotional about the future
of a company? Because company success and survival generates
the wealth that enables us to house, clothe and feed ourselves,
our partners and our children.
“Hayley kept coming up and interrupting me from time to time.
I’m sure she didn’t need to, she just liked to. She was wearing
a lovely black top so I didn’t mind being interrupted by her at
all. We had lunch again, and again I felt - just like yesterday that there was a bit of sexual banter going on. At one point
she said “Ben, are you flirting with me?” I said “Yes, just a bit”,
then I said “I trust you’ll tell me to stop if you don’t like it”. She
came straight over and stood very close to me, then giggled in
a girlish way. She started asking my feelings about children,
did I want children in the future? I also asked her. In my head
I’m asking myself “what is going on here?” These are the kind

2

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

of questions that you start to ask someone when you might
have a romantic relationship” 2
This is Ben’s reaction to Hayley’s behaviour a few days after
Hayley learnt that Ben had serious problems in his 6-year
relationship.
Their flirty relationship changed into a close
friendship. It was short-lived because someone at work accused
Ben of behaving in an “unprofessional” way. Why do people get
so emotional about others’ personal relationships? Because we
may have to compete for the best partners (both in business and
in love) so that we can fulfil our life goals and enjoy the intimacy
and pleasure that comes from a close relationship.
The dominant managerial discourse regarding emotions at
work, however, is to be suspicious of them, ignore them, attempt
to suppress them, even get rid of them. The modern trend is to
encourage “professionalism” with every breath, a euphemism for
the suppression of emotion and avoidance of intimacy. The very
nature of business, however, and particularly leadership, is to
engage in a series of deliberate interventions that impact on the
emotions of employees, suppliers, customers, board members
and investors to stimulate and sustain a network capable of
achieving a variety of social and financial goals. The issue,
therefore, is not emotions, but whose emotions are legitimised.
Researchers Jeff Hearn and Wendy Parkin commented nearly
20 years ago that management books give the impression that
“organisations, so finely analysed, are inhabited by a breed of
strange, asexual eunuch figures…”3. This book not only accepts
men and women as sexual, it argues that success in business is
often linked to the same skills used to create and sustain sexual
relationships. No area of our life is unaffected, and this book
develops themes that inform management strategies for coping
with (and benefiting from) emotional life in the workplace.
The journey I take – and advice that I present – is deeply
personal. While there is a media image of business leaders and
decision-makers as cool rational beings, this is an image removed
from reality. No business leader I have talked to, or worked with,
refrains from using emotional appeals as part of the leadership
process. A leader without “strong personal opinions” is about as
rare as a man or woman who thinks Catherine Zeta Jones is
physically ugly.
Leaders are emotional and this is why others follow their lead.
Changes in workplace policy and practice occur when emotions

In the Beginning…

3

have been deeply affected by a situation or event and there is an
emotional need for harmony and stability. Projects are adopted,
business plans are developed, in response to someone’s
passionate desire to provide a particular product or service. Their
enthusiasm and commitment are factors at least as important as
any economic argument – without their zeal the project will not
succeed.
So much time is spent trying to suppress feelings that we pay
much too little attention to understanding them and using them
intelligently. The attempt to suppress feelings, and a failure to
understand their roots, can lead to behaviours that others
construe as bizarre, sometimes resulting in misunderstanding,
social division and conflict.
This book exposes our emotions and their impacts on
organisation behaviour. It examines aspects of working life that
are poorly understood: the relationship between emotion and
decision-making; the role and impact of “fun”; both the
enjoyment and discomfort of those engaging in sexual behaviour;
the impact of leaders on followers; the impact of followers on
leaders; the complex process of sexual conflict.
The boundaries are drawn widely, offering a perspective that
emotions are the product of people interacting with each other,
not just attributes of personality. Emotions are central - the vital
ingredients that propel us to act and make decisions that are
meaningful.
The experiences recounted illustrate how this
happens, the consequences that occur, and the management
strategies that can harness them effectively.

A Perspective on Sexism
My wife, Caroline, is without doubt the funniest woman I have
ever met, second only to Victoria Wood in my eyes. Back in
1980s she treated me to wonderful impressions of Margaret
Thatcher’s cookery class, in which she made pies out of Arthur
Scargill and fed them to her cabinet (the wooden one in our
dining room). In the 1990s, she invented Funny Mummy for our
children, along with her friends Finny Mimmy, Fanny Manny,
Chalky Charlie and Bernard (Chalky Charlie’s monkey). To live
with such a person is a delight.

4

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

More recently, not least because of her knowledge of the
events unfolding in my work, she has turned her attention to
satirising the state of gender equality in the 21st Century:
From: Caroline Ridley-Duff
To: Rory Ridley-Duff
Sent: 17th December 2005
Re: Gender Study
The following is taken from Dr Darren Barrel’s latest
best-selling book: Why Men Get Stuffed at Christmas
Six things you never knew about Christmas:
1. A staggering 1 in 8 men are injured each year in Christmas
related accidents ranging from fairy light electrocutions to
Santa-beard induced asthma attacks.
2. 80% of men claim to have been bullied by wives/partners
into dressing up as Father Christmas at some time in their
life. Many of the men resented being made to wear prickly
beards but were too afraid to refuse. If they did, they were
accused of having no Christmas spirit or letting their
children down. Significantly, not a single man in the study
has ever put pressure upon a woman to wear a false
beard.
3. 95% of men claim to have been accosted at some time by
a woman dressed in a sexy Santa suit on a Christmas pub
crawl or office party. Not one of these men reported it as
sexual harassment. Yet 99.8% women admitted having
brought a law suit against a ‘randy git’ in a Father
Christmas suit at least once in their life time.
4. Feminists see Father Christmas as a symbol of male
power, a patriarchal figure in charge of the presents who
controls Christmas. A new study, however, argues that
Father Christmas shows the caring, child-focussed,
compassionate, tender qualities of men, drawing attention
to the time and energy they commit to providing for their
children. One surprise finding was that men make this
extra effort because most women won’t tolerate them
taking over childcare for more than one day a year.
5. It is a myth that men don’t want to go near the kitchen
when Christmas dinner is being prepared. 92% of men
said they have been hit over the head with a sherry bottle

In the Beginning…

5

for trying to “sabotage” Christmas dinner or “take over”
when they offered to help their wives – 5% had to be
treated in hospital for injuries when the bottle smashed.
Not one of them reported this as domestic violence, but
52% said they got away with passing off their cuts and
bruises to friends and family as a ‘sport’s injury’.
6. In one harrowing story, a man’s attempt to help in the
kitchen led to criminal charges being brought against him
after his wife accused him of bestiality when she found him
with his hand up a goose. If he had been a woman, would
the police have taken such a charge seriously? The man’s
hand was full of sage and onion stuffing at the time, but the
police refused to accept his explanation that he was
performing a necessary culinary manoeuvre.
If you want to read more about the politics of gender, why not
try one of the following publications by the same author:
Why Men Fight Wars and Women Start Them
Men Can’t Eat What Women Won’t Cook
Understanding – the New Viagra.
Powerful stuff, humour. When women start writing like this it
dawns on you that ‘the times they are a changin’! It has been
hard for Caroline to live with me at times over the last 10 years
as the experiences I have witnessed gradually changed me. Nor,
I suspect, was it easy for the husbands of women in the
suffragette movement when other men contemptuously
suggested that they ‘could not control their women’.
I am grateful for her humour because it shows how men and
women can survive together, continue to find ways to love, while
also exposing hypocrisy. Caroline still has to put up with her own
problems at work – the battle for respect is not over for women
either. Men who believe that it is okay to joke “she’s putting her
knickers on right now” when a clerk asks why she is late for
court, still don’t “get it”. But her wit remains her greatest asset.
When one colleague asked her “Do you think we’ll ever have
sex?” she did not miss a beat before replying “Yes – of course.
Just not together.”
The female respondents in surveys of sex at work generally
report that most women find men’s attempts at sexual humour
irritating rather than unbearable, and also conclude that it is by

6

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

no means clear that women are unwilling participants in sexually
risqué encounters. Many welcomed and enjoyed the banter,
particularly when they could participate on equal terms.4
And, as I have found, once I started to see the world as
Caroline saw it, it occurred to me just how many times I have
been “harassed” by female employees, managers and research
participants who – without any invitation – touched me, groped
my arse, or plonked themselves on my lap at a party and tried to
kiss me, or took advantage of my goodwill to get free lunches or
drinks. These are not difficult to cope with, but the hackles do
start to rise when the same people start claiming they are victims
of sexist behaviour by men.
This kind of behaviour is in a different league, however, from
being required to perform sexual favours for a promotion or to
keep a job, or facing a formal (or behinds the scenes) accusation
of “unprofessional” behaviour for nothing more than inviting
someone for a drink or trying to develop informality to promote a
better working relationship. In these cases, a man or woman’s
job comes under threat and making a complaint might make
matters worse. Women now – usually – can get redress if they
want to, but it is a repeated research finding that in cases of
sexual conflict, men’s response to women’s behaviour is now
more likely to get the man a demotion or the sack than the
woman5. This is a reversal of the situation 30 years ago.
These situations, therefore, threaten more than workplace
stability. They threaten relationships outside work, particularly if
a man’s wife/girlfriend will not believe his innocence. It can
result in the loss of both trust and income on which other
women, men and children depend, and have ripple effects on
other places of work.
Throughout this book, I draw together the strands of a debate
to argue for a new conception of power – one that recognises
that power is embedded in intimate relationships. When one
party damages or reduces the intimacy, both parties suffer a loss
of power. The power to accuse, blame and exclude does not
‘control’ a situation. Firstly, it unjustly ostracises the person
accused and prevents them having a right of reply except
through the courts. Secondly, it compromises the power of the
accuser by decreasing others comfort working with them. The
silences that follow a person who makes unfounded accusations
can leave them feeling even more vulnerable and defensive.

In the Beginning…

7

By conceptualising power differently, it becomes possible to
define a management strategy for a “power full” organisation –
places where both women and men can exercise more power and
speak their mind on more issues, while remaining sensitive to
other points of view. By removing taboos, places of work
become more enjoyable places to be. This is not just a
supposition, there is now a considerable body of opinion, and
research, that shows how the expression of strong emotions
combined with tolerance for diversity creates thriving and
productive organisations6.

No Sex Please – We’re British!
‘No sex’ policies have been on the increase due to litigation on
sexual harassment. Recent changes in the law now make it
possible to prosecute or sack someone if the effect of their
behaviour is to intimidate or degrade someone – regardless of
the intention. As a result, it is now a requirement that managers
prevent people accidentally upsetting someone else at work or
take action if they do! Throughout the book, I give examples of
(what may turn out to be) perverse and unjust outcomes that
result from these legal and cultural changes.
The issues surrounding sexual relationships and flirting are
particularly important to men. As Mariella Frostrup reported in
her documentary Backlash,7 and Michael Buerk in his
documentary What are Men For,8 women are now openly sexual
both inside and outside work, and can generally be so without
putting their jobs at risk. Men, on the other hand, can be
summarily sacked for risqué comments or emails. Zero tolerance,
it seems, applies only to men’s sexual behaviour. Nevertheless,
as the high profile case of Faria Alam at the Football Association
illustrated, if women are continually sexual at work, they can also
be sacked and the courts will not view this as sex discrimination.9
Warren Farrell, one of the intellectual founders of the men’s
equality movement, summarises the politics of the issue as
follows:
In one decade, women got more protection against offensive
jokes in the workplace than men got in centuries against being
killed… It leaves almost every male executive vulnerable to
having his career ruined and almost every company with male
executives vulnerable to having a finely honed management

8

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

team broken up, its morale destroyed, and the remaining
executives walking on eggshells. All this is an invitation to
executive hypocrisy – in which [everyone] shuts their mouth
when a woman comes into the room, thus creating genuine
discrimination and a thick-glassed ceiling. The woman who
wants real equality pays a big price.10
A few years later, he elaborated on the price that women pay,
and the damage it is doing to personal relationships:
If a man is not speaking up out of a need to protect, he is
creating something worse than a parent-child relationship. He
becomes like a permissive parent who soon finds himself
needing protection from the child who knows no one’s
perspective but her or his own. This is what men’s silence has
created both individually and socially.
It is not the men who confront women directly that women
need to fear; it is the men who fear confronting women
because they don’t think there’s any hope, they “know” she’ll
never understand, or they’re unwilling to risk the possibility
that she will call him “woman hater”. When men do not speak
up it demonstrates a blend of fear of women and contempt for
women with a lack of courage. That cannot co-exist with truly
loving a woman as an equal.
In contrast, a man who speaks up is engaged. A man who is
engaged cares. He has hope. He is risking for the hope of
intimacy. But a man needs to let a woman know that is his
intent.11
I declare with all my heart and head that this is my intent. By
speaking up, I am attempting to engage and care.
There are two possible responses to problems created by sex
discrimination legislation. The first is to repeal it. This would
upset a great many who have dedicated their lives to taking
forward an agenda for equality and set us back two generations.
I prefer a second option - to confront, as feminists did in the
1960s and 1970s, the double-standards that are now being
applied to the emotional reactions of men and women over
sexual behaviour at work. By doing this, we can update our
understanding of what constitutes reasonable sexual behaviour
and reduce both actual harassment as well as false claims of
harassment.

In the Beginning…

9

False accusations are as emotive as truthful ones – more so.
It may also, therefore, be a good time to examine the power that
the law currently provides for a person to accuse without taking
responsibility for their accusation. In examining this, inequities in
investigation processes can be discussed, as well as inequities in
the application of the law. The starting point for this is a better
understanding of how relationships form, develop and
breakdown.
One particular concern is the impact of withdrawing from “the
other” in ways that are emotionally immature and socially unjust.
Emotionally immature people engage in malicious behaviour by
blaming “the other” for their own feelings. It is important,
therefore, that managers come to understand that shows of
distress do not always indicate who is being victimised and who is
being hurt. There are occasions when the person who is
distressed needs support rather than vindication to process their
emotions. Our culturally acquired desire to protect ourselves,
and particularly to protect women, means that handling such
issues need special consideration.
How we legitimise and illegitimise (sexual) behaviour has a
profound impact on the way we understand, tolerate and
interpret it. It feeds directly into the way people are governed at
work (and in society generally). A better understanding broadens
the strategies for managers and policy-makers to develop
approaches and processes to deal with it, not just to avoid
conflict, but to construct resolution processes that build trust,
create emotional stability, and improve productivity and
profitability. It is possible to create ‘knowledge’ that brings about
win-win results, more opportunities for intimacy, more social
cohesion (but not necessarily more social harmony). To get there
we must traverse some difficult and politically incorrect waters.

Setting the Agenda for Equality
I love my sister. She did so much to start me on the road that
led to this book that she could almost be considered its
co-author. Despite our closeness, there have been occasions
when I felt awkward talking to her. I was afraid she would think
me either ignorant or argumentative. Walking into her house and
reading postcards on her kitchen board saying “men have only
two faults: everything they do and everything they say” or “grow

10

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

your own dope: plant a man!” does not create an environment
conducive to equitable dialogue. I could laugh – and still do - but
their offence, however unintentional, was not lost on me either.
It was not my hope that by providing support to the women’s
movement – and women individually - that the result should be
the ridicule of my own sex, or workplace cultures in which men
are disciplined, or even sacked, for causing mild offence (and
where the same rules do not apply to women). The kind of
emancipatory movement I wanted to be part of was one in which
all sexualities lost their inhibitions together and grew more
open-minded and accepting of each other.
Emotion is never far away when explanations are developed.
The women’s movement in the early 1900s was fuelled by a
desire for equality in law. The movement in the 1960s was
fuelled by a desire for equality in culture. Many women were
experiencing divorce, or losing their “fear of flying” by leaving the
men with whom they had set up homes. They experimented with
a variety of lifestyles. Some succeeded, but others were left
bereft of attention and affection, or alienated from it, struggling
to find dignity at work.12
This manifest itself in anger and a demand for workplace
equality. Sexually, it manifest itself in a campaign to end sex
discrimination and harassment so that the women could build
independent lives. Their need to work – and succeed at work –
was now as urgent as the men who were supporting wives and
children at home.
Striving for independence had a price,
however.
The emotions aroused by shattered romantic
aspirations and the pain of rejection fed the emergence of more
radical political movements.
The same is happening now amongst men. The contemporary
men’s movement is fuelled by the goal of equal rights for male
parents. Theoretically this exists in law – as it did for women at
work in the 1920s – but cultural norms deny men equality.
Seeking equality at home means obtaining equality at work (so
that men have time and opportunity to be at home). In this
process men have discovered that they are not as equal (either at
home or at work) as they thought they were.13
The men’s movement has also grown out of emotional hurt.
The most radicalised have been rejected by women learning to
fly, or who prefer the alternative lifestyles on offer rather than
sharing their life with a man. When they use men to father
children but later deny them equal choices and rights over

In the Beginning…

11

abortion and childraising, it can feel – to the men – like a sexual
violation. In this sense, the psychological impacts have been
compared to rape.
At work, the most emotive issue is reactions to courtship –
that is a theme that will recur frequently in the pages that follow.
To respond to flirting and then find oneself out of a job is now a
more common experience for men than women (a reverse of the
situation in the 1960s/1970s).14 It leaves behind confusion and
anger. It also impacts on entire social networks as people deal
with the outcome of conflict.15 While studies have repeatedly
shown that both men and women desire “fun” at work,16 there
are others – those currently shaping our laws – who frame this as
harassment and shout “foul” when it occurs. Both camps get
angry at the other and the dividing line here is not between men
and women so much as between liberals and conservatives over
what is, and is not, permissible at work.
It had not occurred to me before writing this book, for
example, how often the person – both male and female - making
an accusation of “inappropriate” sexual behaviour, was not in a
relationship, or in an uncommitted or unhappy relationship. The
sample is too small to generalise, but it raised questions in my
mind that I, and others, can pursue in future work. In particular,
it suggested to me that the party most obsessed about forming a
more satisfying sexual relationship will typically be the person
who is currently not in one, rather than the party who is accused
of sexual misbehaviour.

To the Reader
To the women who read this book, I would like to ask for
patience. When I first read feminist books written by women,
I found them both interesting and unsettling. The mixture of
feelings came from the unease I felt when confronting myself as
women see me. When finally I started to read books written by
men about the same issues, my reaction was “of course, how
obvious!”
Their accounts rang true (for me) much more
frequently than the books written by women.
This book,
however, may disturb you in the way that early feminist works
disturbed me. I can see, with hindsight, that this sense of
unease was created by women’s struggle to understand
themselves in relation to men. This book is part of my struggle

12

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

to understand myself in relation to women. I hope you will work
through the feelings this book arouses so that you can love men
more fully, and also gain a fuller appreciation of your power to
influence and control men’s behaviour.
To the men who read this book, I would like to ask for
restraint. I found it hard – just as many women did – to love
men after the revelations of the last 30 years regarding violence
and harassment. It has taken a while to come to terms with
men’s point of view because their contribution to the debate (and
accounts of their experience) have been silenced or edited by
angry men and women. The temptation is to argue men’s case
with too much passion and lose sight of women’s perspectives
and legitimate concerns. I do not see this as a men’s book – it is
a book for both sexes. It will, hopefully, help men to understand
their own issues and redress imbalances in the debate that have
developed over the last 30 years. In as much as there are more
men engaged in entrepreneurial and managerial careers, it may
find a bigger audience amongst men than women.
For the record, my own view is that men seldom set out to
hurt women, and women seldom set out to hurt men, but both
seek to develop their interests. Men and women, however, can
feel hurt when their close friends and partners (whether at work
or home) form new relationships with other people. If it is not
possible to release these feelings of hurt, a desire builds to
punish “the other” for neglecting the relationship. On the other
side, when two people decide to pursue a new relationship at the
expense of their old ones, the new couple work together to end
relationships that threaten what they want.
Hard as it is to cope with, this is the way human beings
behave when they are trying to build strong relationships to
ensure their well-being in the future. It is always an emotional
(and sometimes violent) process. Seen from only one perspective
it looks unfair and one-sided. But seen as an expression of
mutual desire, or as an attempt to develop shared goals or enjoy
one another’s company, we can start to see an unquenchable
thirst for passion and intimacy that is shared by women and men
together.
By rooting our understanding of organisation behaviour in this
perspective, we can take a more positive look at conflict. Not
only will I argue that sexual and emotional dynamics lie at the
root of organisation behaviour but also that it is economically and
socially progressive to ground management theory in this

In the Beginning…

13

perspective. Let me start by reconsidering the role and purpose
of emotions.

14

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Notes for Chapter 1
1

Collins, J. (2001) Good to Great, Random Business Books, p. 76.

2

Ridley-Duff, R. J. (2005) Communitarian Perspectives on Corporate
Governance, Sheffield Hallam University, Appendix C. p. 3.

3

Hearn, J. and Parkin, J. (1987) Sex at Work: the power and paradox
of organisation sexuality, Wheatsheaf, p. 4.

4

Gutek, B. (1985) Sex and the Workplace, London: Jossey-Bass. See
also Thompson and Ackroyd (1999), Organisation Misbehaviour, Sage
Publications.

5

Farrell, W. (1994) The Myth of Male Power, Why Men Are the
Disposable Sex, Berkley Books, Chapter 18 (“The Politics of Sex”).

6

For research establishing the link between tolerance, diversity and
company performance see Kotter, P., Heskett, J. (1992) Corporate
Culture and Performance, Free Press. For mechanisms that permit
diversity within corporate cultures see Turnbull, S. (1994)
“Stakeholder Democracy: Redesigning The Governance of Firms and
Bureaucracies”, Journal of Socio-Economics, 23(3): 321-360. For a
refreshing comparison between unitarist corporate cultures in North
America and co-operative culture in the Basque region of Spain, see
Cheney, G. (1999) Values at Work, ILR Press/Cornell University Press.
To understand the negative health and operational effects of
“visionary” corporate cultures see Kunda, G. (1992) Engineering
Culture: Control and Commitment in a High-Tech Corporation,
Philadelphia: Temple University Press. For a theoretical and
educational discussion of the problems created by attempts to
manage people’s values and ethics see Griseri, P. (1998) Managing
Values, London: Macmillan.

7

British Broadcasting Corporation (2005), Sex and the Nanny State, 5th
November 2005, BBC 2, 18.45 GMT. Presenter: Mariella Frostrup.
Producer and Director: Steve Grandison. Executive Producer: Paul
Woolwich.

8

Channel Five (2005) “What are Men For?”, Don’t Get Me Started,
23rd August 2005. Scripted and presented by Michael Buerk.

9

BBC News (2005) Alam Loses FA Sex Case Tribunal, 9th September
2005. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4230472.stm for details.

In the Beginning…

15

10

Farrell, W. (1994) The Myth of Male Power, Why Men Are the
Disposable Sex, Berkley Books, p. 288, pp. 296-7.

11

Farrell, W. (2000) Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say,
Tarcher/Putnam.

12

See Friedan, B. (1963) The Feminine Mystique, Penguin. For the
fragmentation of the women’s movement and the development and
effects of radical feminism see Hoff-Sommers, C. (1995) Who Stole
Feminism? How women have betrayed women, Simon & Schuster
and Levy, A. (2005) Female Chauvinist Pigs: The Rise of Raunch
Culture, New York, Free Press.

13

Farrell, W. (2001) Father and Child Reunion, Sydney, Finch Publishing.

14

Farrell, W. (1994) The Myth of Male Power, Berkeley Books. See
Chapters 13 (“The Politics of Sex”) and Chapter 14 (“The Politics of
Rape”).

15

Ridley-Duff, R. J. (2005) Communitarian Perspectives on Corporate
Governance, Sheffield Hallam University, Chapter 5.

16

Ackroyd, S and Thompson, P. (1999), Organisation Misbehaviour,
Sage Publications, Chapter 6 (“Sexual Misbehaviour”).

Chapter 2 – What are Emotions?
Overview
This chapter discusses emotions. The next chapter examines
seduction and intimacy. If you cannot wait to read about
seduction, you may be tempted to skip this chapter. Before you
do so, take a quick look at the summary section. If you disagree
with the points made, then this chapter has something to offer
you. In this chapter, you will learn how emotions guide our
behaviour to keep us safe, and even how emotions develop as a
way to keep our decision-making rational.
My dictionary has a definition of emotion as “a strong mental
or instinctive feeling”. It cites a former meaning that emotion is
“a disturbance of the mind”.1 When the word “emotional” is used
of people, the same dictionary suggests that this is applied to
someone who is “liable to excessive emotion” – it is certainly not
intended as a compliment! In short, being emotional is not
regarded as a good thing. Instead, it is seen as problematic and
undesirable.
When I look back over my life, however, it occurs to me that it
has been one long series of passionate encounters. First it was
dinosaurs - spurred by a fantastic “Live and Learn” book. I just
loved the pictures. Then there was football, basketball and golf,
then girls, then golf again, then music, then computer
programming, politics, then women (and particularly my wife),
followed by concern for gender issues, my children, and
supporting them by creating and developing businesses. The
latest passion (and I get emotional just talking about it) is
writing.
Seen this way, emotions have a more positive character.
They have been central to my desire to do things and gave me
the energy and aspiration to live a fulfilling life. Once activated,
the impossible became possible, strategies to overcome obstacles
were planned, and I pursued them until I felt I had exhausted
what there was to learn.

What are Emotions?

17

Business is often portrayed as an unemotional pursuit. Yet,
the enduring memory I have of my own business life, and that of
others I have observed, is just how emotional and intuitive it is.
The process starts surprisingly early as the following conversation
with the editor of this book, Poonam Thapa, shows.
Poonam

…without putting a complete damper on the
business plan he is not taken up by the document.
As he says it is not tight enough or sufficient
justification on sales, pricing and marketing. Feels
there is not enough market research - so on and
so forth. I am quite upset and gritting my
teeth…sometimes I feel like chucking everything
and going back to full time work.

Rory

If it is any consolation, we had eight versions of
our business plan to satisfy different people/bodies
after the first one was agreed internally with our
first business adviser - I think their purpose is to
drive us crazy......

Poonam

Reality sucks! I recognise what the business
adviser is saying but it’s still depressing. I am not
sure how much I am up for a re-write - not 8 times
for sure! There has to be another way out of this.

Rory

I feel for you – “re-writes" were incremental
changes for different interested parties, but I got
seriously depressed (as you are) at one point.
There is another way - we choose the key
products, start trading, and overcome each
obstacle as it arises! I don't suppose Hewlett and
Packard went through all this shit when they
started engineering products in their garage!

Poonam

I am not sure if great minds think alike or fools
seldom differ. I was thinking also along similar
lines. Here are my thoughts….

Rory

Sounds very practical. You go lock yourself down
while I get up steam to re-write the final chapter of
my book (groan.....)

18

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

What comes across to me in these exchanges is not just the
emotion that is evident, but the way it dissipates as solutions take
shape. This is a process that repeats itself over and over in any
relationship between two people who seek to achieve things
together.
In short, a trigger for powerful emotions is a
perception that reality is getting
further from, or coming closer to,
Psychologists call strong
our aspirations. The greater the
emotional reactions cognitive
change, the greater the emotion.
dissonance. Since the 1950s it
Below, an employee describes
has been one of the most studied
how Harry, a Managing Director,
phenomena in social psychology.
While the impacts are not
regarded the issue of emotion
consistent across all people,
when speaking to potential
there has been a marked
managers:
tendency for people to change
their opinion about something,
including their own behaviour, if
doing so improves their selfimage. The impacts are too
many to review here, but
amongst the most notable side
effects are prejudice against
other social groups (blame
others for their misfortune to
avoid personal responsibility),
rapid change in moral values (to
justify opportunistic behaviour),
rapid changes of social norms (to
justify acts that would attract
condemnation). Politicians
deliberately exploit our
propensity for cognitive
dissonance to manipulate public
opinion!

At this point he asked us to 'put
away' the word motivation, and
use the word activation instead.
Managers could only create an
environment in which people
could activate these feelings - it
was up to each of us to do the
activating.

For Harry, managers could not
hope to motivate people directly,
only create an environment in
which their emotional desire to
achieve is activated. It rested
on triggering positive emotions in
people.
His company’s vision
statement – agreed by 60
members of staff - was to create
an environment in which people
felt “inspired, respected and
appreciated”. In short, his executive team aimed to run their
business so that particular emotions were triggered. They did not
always achieve this – and later we will consider some of the
reasons why – but the goal was specific and had a high profile in
recruitment, induction and management training.

What are Emotions?

19

Consider yourself when you are out and about town, or in the
shops, at the cinema or dancing with friends. What is it that
catches your attention? Why did you look right rather than left,
look up instead of down, speak instead of stay quiet, smile
instead of frown, laugh instead of cry, cry instead of laugh? In
each case, it is your emotions that alerted you to something
taking place around you.
One eminent researcher, Karl Weick, described the process of
sense-making as follows:
Karl Weick, the author of the
above quote, describes
happiness and sadness as
emotions that are triggered by
the unexpected satisfaction or
disappointment of an
expectation. If a person is not
expecting to achieve something
quickly, but events unfold in such
a way to accelerate them
towards a goal, then the body
produces feelings of satisfaction
and happiness.
Conversely, if we have an
expectation that is disappointed,
the body reacts in a different
way to produce feelings of anger,
sadness or frustration.

A key event for emotion is the
interruption of an expectation.
It makes good evolutionary
sense to construct an organism
that reacts significantly when
the world is no longer the way
it was…Once heightened
arousal is perceived, it is
appraised, and people try to
construct some link between
the present situation and
‘relevant’ prior situations to
make sense of the arousal.
Arousal leads people to search
for an answer to the question
‘What’s up?’2

Emotions, therefore, are
not necessarily problematic for
He argues that having goals that
decision-making
and
are achievable – preferably goals
decision-makers.
They
are
that also involve ‘loved ones’ - is
reactions
to
change
which
alert
the best strategy for achieving
us to strengths, weakness,
ongoing happiness. Avoiding
threats
and
opportunities
challenges, on the other hand,
might avoid sadness but will also
around us.
never make someone happy.
Why is it, however, that we
sometimes appear to behave
irrationally?
There are two
issues here. Firstly, what is irrational to one person may be
sensible to others.
One person may see possibilities and
outcomes that others cannot see. Secondly, as Wilhelm Wundt
discovered over a century ago, the mind is quite limited in what it

20

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

can perceive at any one time. Typically a person can only
process about half a dozen pieces of information at a time. More
intelligent people might cope with eight or nine pieces of
information.3
A situation may appear threatening because of the things we
have not taken into account. Alternatively, a situation may look
promising because we have not perceived the threats that are
present. Either we make the decision based on what we know,
or we defer the decision until we have more information. What
guides us? Our emotions! They indicate to us the urgency of the
situation and the speed with which we must make a decision.
While we cannot be certain that our emotions are always right
or wrong, a fair amount of research indicates that people with
good judgement rely on their emotions as much as any other
source of knowledge, and that the outcomes of their decisions
are no better, no worse than those who use calculative,
mathematical and “rational” means to evaluate alternatives.4 In
considering why this is the case, let us consider how emotions
are stored and the way they are formed.

Emotional Knowledge
The best-selling author Daniel Goleman has popularised the
concept of emotional intelligence. While the applications of his
work have been strongly criticised5, it is important for describing
how the brain’s three centres of intelligence work together.
Goleman’s application of his own argument, however, is
contradictory. In this section I will explore both the importance
and limitations of his work.
Goleman describes how we process information received
through our senses. For many years, brain scientists have
distinguished between two parts of the brain. Firstly, there is the
limbic brain – evolved over millions of years to handle our basic
body functions, sexual instincts, and the acquisition of
knowledge. Secondly, there is the neocortex, a more recently
developed part of the brain that deals with so-called “rational”
thought. Our capacity to make decisions, it was believed, was
rooted in the thought processes taking place in the neocortex,
while the limbic brain controlled instinctive responses. In crude
terms, the limbic brain controls our animal behaviour while the
neocortex controlled our refined behaviour.

What are Emotions?

21

Two major discoveries, one at the start of the twentieth
century and the other at the end, have changed this
understanding. The first was the work of Pavlov (and his famous
dogs). The second is the neuroscience described by Goleman.
Taken together they reveal how emotional intelligence is learnt
through a combination of personal reflection and cultural
experience.
Goleman describes the role of the amygdala – a place where
emotional memories are stored in the brain. It is now known that
information is passed to the amygdala before it is passed to the
neocortex. It was also discovered that loss of access to the
amygdala devastates our ability to make decisions. In other
words, we “think” in two parts of the brain at the same time. We
use both emotional memories and reflected experience to make
decisions.

Pavlov’s Dogs
The significance of Pavlov’s work is often misunderstood, but by
explaining his findings with reference to Goleman’s work, the
impact of cultural experiences in developing our emotions can be
better appreciated. Pavlov conducted a series of experiments in
which dogs were fed after ringing a bell.6 Over time, the dogs
got so used to being fed when they heard a bell that the ringing
of the bell alone caused them to salivate in anticipation of
receiving food.
The most common interpretation – and application – of
Pavlov’s work is in the field of behavioural conditioning. Child
and management psychologists alike applied and developed
Pavlov’s work to create strategies for social control through
reinforcing desired behaviour with rewards. The way that pay
policy and perks are utilised to underpin human resource
management (HRM) strategies goes back to the discovery that
Pavlov’s dogs could be conditioned to respond in particular ways
if they believed they would be rewarded for it.
A deeper appreciation of Pavlov’s work, however, leads to
greater insights. Emotions are not “given” - they are learnt.
Moreover, the emotions may appear in later life as “instincts”
although originally they were not. The seminal importance of
Pavlov’s work, therefore, was to show that “instincts” are learned
responses to repeated patterns of cause and effect.
We

22

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

internalise the patterns of cause and effect as ‘knowledge’ and
begin to anticipate them.
This, however, is not the end of the story. In more recent
research, we have started to unravel the human capacity to
question our earlier understanding and responses. We can
unlearn social programming to regain conscious choice over our
lives.7 Over time, we learn the social meaning of repeated
attempts to control our behaviour and this diminishes the
effectiveness of the reward approach to behaviour control.
Control ultimately depends on the meanings that people assign to
others attempts to control their behaviour. People are not
machines, and cannot be ‘controlled’ with cause-effect thinking.
The brain remembers the impact on our feelings when we
have different experiences. Then, as new events unfold in a
particular way, we anticipate the outcome and this triggers an
emotional reaction (depending on
how we feel about the potential
The Nobel Prize winning Herb
Simons has been an important
outcome). Emotions, therefore,
figure in developing our
are not neutral or genetically
understanding of rational
inherited – they are deeply
thinking. His argument, largely
embedded in our personal and
accepted today, is that people
cultural experiences. They are
are only rational in relation to
learnt by storing up ‘knowledge’ of
what they know.
the way that situations have
In human terms, it means that
unfolded in the past to give us an
we are only confident or afraid
idea of how situations are likely to
on the basis of what we take into
unfold in the future. Based on
consideration when making a
past learning, our emotions guide
decision. His work resulted in
us towards behaviours that we
the concept of bounded
believe will bring about desirable
rationality - that our decisions
outcomes.
cannot ever be fully informed,
and that the way we select and
In early life, the way we are
interpret information is critical in
rewarded and punished for
decision-making.
different behaviours constructs
our emotional intelligence and an
These
“emotional dictionary”.8
reside in the amygdala. They are recalled – together with
knowledge stored in the neocortex – every time we sense
something. They work together to guide us towards decisions
that will promote our survival. As we mature, however, we
become more sophisticated in understanding the way we have

What are Emotions?

23

been ‘programmed’ by our past experience and this enables us –
if we practice reflection – to regain and consider more choices.
Goleman’s view of the neocortex as a “rational” brain,
however, is problematic. While the amygdala stores personal
responses to events, the neocortex is the place in which cultural
knowledge is assembled and recalled for future use. Institutional
knowledge – that acquired from books, newspapers, films and
the media – is often full of prejudices, misinformation, inaccurate
‘facts’ and personal opinions.
These are processed through reflection and stored in the
neocortex for future recall. Our feelings about these reflections
are stored in the amygdala. While this expands the array of
knowledge we can use to make decisions, it will be full of both
“irrational” and “rational” information. Once it was common
knowledge amongst scholars that the sun moved around the
earth, that we did not evolve from apes, that if we took our
clothes off our spirit would escape. All this “rational” knowledge
was worked out by people of the highest intellect and propagated
via the cultural forms of their times.
The knowledge stored in the amygdala however, has all been
validated by personal experience. It has to pass a higher
standard of proof than the knowledge acquired through culture.
Despite this, many people accord more credence to knowledge
acquired from the media and books than from their own personal
experience.

The Three Key Areas of the Brain
To summarise, let me reiterate the import of these discoveries.
Firstly, the brain can be seen as having three bodies of
knowledge. The first is the limbic brain that controls our bodily
functions and learning processes. It is credited as the part of the
brain that controls genetically inherited unconscious behaviour.
This part of the brain is largely beyond our comprehension,
although scientists deduce its operation and function from the
way the body behaves, and can now use brain scans to observe
brain activity in real-time.
The second is the neocortex, a place where ‘knowledge’ is
acquired through language and reflection. It is better to see this
as the repository of culturally acquired knowledge, rather than
rational thought. The ‘knowledge’ in the neocortex may be

24

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

inaccurate or accurate, mislead us or guide us towards truth. It
is our ‘common sense’, but only the sense that is common to us,
not that learned by other people.
Lastly, there is the amygdala, a place where emotional
knowledge is acquired through personal experiences and we
record the impacts on our emotional well-being. From this place,
we recall and project the likely emotional impact of different
choices to guide us towards safety and pleasure in everyday life.
Do you have a special skill such as playing the piano, juggling or
writing poetry? If not, think of learning to drive or swim. Think
back to how you felt when you started. Were you all fingers and
thumbs and did your hand not move when the leg did?
Gradually, what feels completely unnatural starts to feel natural.
Eventually, it becomes second-nature, as if the behaviour is
instinctive. Even after a gap of many years, we can still make
instant use of the skills we acquired in early life.
This process occurs repeatedly in the first few years of life before we are aware we are doing it. It applies to the way we
think as well as the physical skills we learn. The capacity to learn
is an instinct, but much of what we learn is culturally determined
– even if later in life it feels like “common sense” or an instinct.
Importantly, culturally acquired knowledge can be unlearnt and
relearnt. Emotions, and reactions, change as our lives develop.

Stories of Emotional Intelligence
Goleman recounts many stories. I will use two of them to show
the possibilities and limitations of his work. In the first instance,
he attempts to show that our emotions can be irrational because
“we confront dilemmas with an emotional repertoire tailored to
the urgencies of the Pleistocene”9.
To illustrate this he tells the story of Matilda Crabtree who was
shot by her father, Bobby, when she played a practical joke.
Goleman argues that:
Fear primed Crabtree to shoot before he could fully register
what he was shooting at, even before he could recognize his
daughter’s voice. Automatic reactions of this sort have
become etched in our nervous system, evolutionary biologists
presume, because for a long and crucial period in human

What are Emotions?

25

prehistory they made the difference between survival and
death.10
Goleman suggests that the actions of Bobby Crabtree was a
response to “our distant ancestral past”. However, the details of
the story – and an appreciation of the way modern culture affects
our judgement - do not bear this out.
Bobby Crabtree had been out with his wife visiting friends.
They thought their fourteen-year-old daughter, Matilda, was also
staying over at friends, so when they entered the house at 1am
in the morning and heard noises, Bobby believed there was an
intruder. He fetched his gun and searched the house. As he
entered Matilda’s room, she jumped out of a closet in which she
had been hiding and yelled “Boo!” Bobby, thinking that he was
being attacked, shot her dead.
From a holistic perspective, it might be argued that this
behaviour was irrational. But from the perspective of Bobby, who
had ruled out the possibility of his daughter being at home (a
rational deduction), he assumed that hearing noises in his home
was likely to indicate a burglary was in progress. To him,
therefore, his reactions were the “difference between survival and
death” - just as they used to be millions of years earlier.
His deductions – the result of a modern thinking process – are
deeply rooted in cultural knowledge. From where did he learn
that this configuration of events was likely to be a burglary?
Bobby’s thinking was influenced by films, books, newspapers and
the mass media (and maybe from personal experience). It was
not unreasonable for Bobby to presume, on the basis of the
information known to him, that someone hostile was in his house.
Further, his acquisition of a gun to defend himself is the result
of cultural norms rooted in the constitutional provisions in the
United States (US). In the US, a person has a constitutional right
to bear arms and defend their property. In the United Kingdom
(UK), such behaviour would be culturally illegitimate and illegal.
Consider the case of Tony Martin, the farmer who shot a burglar
and was sent to prison for doing so. While his case generated
considerable popular debate, the law regarding self-defence
remains that shooting a burglar (in the UK) is an unreasonable
use of force.11
Given the cultural and emotional knowledge he had acquired
living in the United States, Bobby Crabtree’s emotional responses
can be regarded as rational, rather than irrational. But if his

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

cultural knowledge had been acquired in the UK (or any
community where burglaries never occur within a society where
guns in the home are considered illegal), his emotional responses
would not just seem irrational, they would probably be regarded
as insane.
The other Goleman story I recount here is equally revealing
and illustrates the dual effect of recalling emotional and
experiential memories together. He discusses the case of Elliot, a
highly intelligent and successful corporate lawyer, who had a
tumour just below his forehead. After the tumour was removed,
he retained all his mental faculties and could still perform just as
well on any intellectual challenge put to him. His problem,
however, was that he could not make any decisions. Goleman
recounts the problems that Elliot had organising meetings:
The handicap showed up even in mundane decisions. When
Damasio [his doctor] tried to choose a time and date for the
next appointment with Elliot, the result was a muddle of
indecisiveness: Elliot could find arguments for and against
every date and time that Damasio proposed, but could not
choose amongst them…Elliot lacked any sense of how he felt
about any of the times. Lacking that awareness of his own
feelings, he had no preferences at all.12
Emotional awareness is part of our intelligence because it
provides us with information about how we felt about past
decisions. It is our feelings that we use as a yardstick – feelings
acquired by making decisions – that tell us whether something is
likely to help or hinder in the future. Elliot’s operation had
severed access to the information stored in his amygdala. He
could no longer access the emotional memories that previously
informed his decision-making and he had to learn them all over
again.
Can you think of a time when you felt passionately about
something? How did you know you were right? What knowledge
were you drawing on? Where did that knowledge come from?
Which person? Which books? Did you learn it from television?
Was it fact (a true story) or fiction (an illustrative story)? How
are you sure that the knowledge you used was correct? Did you
test it out personally or take it on trust? Do you ever do anything
before you accept knowledge as reliable? How do you decide
which amongst many propositions are reliable and truthful?

What are Emotions?

27

Some Personal Stories
The way that we learn emotions – and the contexts in which they
are useful to us - can be illustrated from experience of parenting.
My baby daughters were able to sleep through the most intrusive
and disruptive noises. I was so amazed by this that I once
placed our daughter next to a particularly noisy alarm clock
during an afternoon snooze. Just as I had expected – but
contrary to common sense – I woke immediately when the alarm
went off, but she slept straight through without batting an
eye-lid.
I have puzzled about why I wake up, but my daughters do
not. Even now my daughters are 8 and 12 years old, they
seldom awake and get up when an alarm goes off. The pattern –
in our house at least – is that they wake up when they wake up,
or they wake up when mummy or daddy wakes them. The only
thing that makes sense is that an alarm means something
different to me than to my daughters – my emotional reactions to
an alarm sound are different.
The way we assemble meaning and link it to emotion is
complex, but a simple story about my baby daughter will help. In
one incident, my daughter Natasha, then aged about 13 months,
climbed over barriers erected to keep her away from a Christmas
tree. Such barriers were common in our house because she
explored everything – we even had to barricade the TV because
she liked to put slices of toast inside the video recorder! On this
occasion, however, she managed to surmount the barrier,
remove a bauble and start to eat it. The moment the bauble
shattered in her mouth, she started to cry, and then started to
vomit. Without a moment’s hesitation, I rushed to the phone and
called an ambulance.
My daughter, Natasha, had not learnt to fear what she was
doing. Her lack of fear, and desire to learn, was complimented
by my own, and Caroline’s, awareness of the danger she was in.
Our emotions saved her because her own emotions were not yet
sufficiently developed. As time passed, however, she acquired a
fear of things that would hurt her (often from books,
conversations with people, films etc.). As a result, she gradually
got better and better at looking after herself.
Fear is an acquired emotion. We not only learn to fear, but
what to fear, and how to overcome fear. Children often develop

28

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

fears then grow out of them. My youngest, Bethany, started to
have tantrums around the age of 18 months whenever we
entered a car wash. For a while, I had to park the car in the
wash, then get out and go back to press the start button so she
could watch. As she developed understanding, her fear subsided.
Eventually, she grew to enjoy what she earlier had feared.

Emotional Defence and Emotion Management
It is a common strategy to attribute blame to others as a method
of self-defence.
Not only legal systems, but also many
management systems, are constructed in such a way that we
decide on the rights and wrongs of a situation, then allocate
blame rather than work to understand and rebuild damaged
relationships.
We react to, rather than understand and
overcome, our fears. Whether it is the process of prosecuting an
employee or employer, blaming a manager or employee for poor
performance, sacking people or getting them sacked, social
control is characterised by the allocation of blame.
The way blame and emotional defence is linked is illustrated
by a story from Custom Products. Irene was a generously
proportioned member of staff who wore glasses. Although she
worked hard, she became isolated amongst the workforce. After
7 years of employment, Irene was withdrawn and not attending
social events organised by the company.
Irene argued that the company should not force her to
socialise with work colleagues. She felt isolated and did not wish
to be with them outside work. John, one of the company
directors, argued that she dug herself into a hole by upsetting her
colleagues with her behaviour.
He also argued that
non-attendance would set a bad example that others might
follow.
This would damage the “community” culture the
organisation was trying to develop.
Irene broke tacit and explicit social rules and was blamed for
the conflict she created. Another perspective, however, is that
the rules themselves were the source of the conflict because of
the unreasonable expectations they placed on Irene. Without the
rules, the conflict would not have occurred. In this case, the
rules could not accommodate Irene’s discomfort within her peer
group. From John’s point of view, rule enforcement – to ensure
full participation - was more important than the specifics of
Irene’s situation.

What are Emotions?

29

In the blame game that followed, let us consider some of the
emotions that were aroused. In the passage below, Diane – a
human resources manager attending a directors’ meeting to
advise on the situation - recalls discussion amongst senior staff:
I was sitting in the directors’ meeting and they were all talking
about Irene. I felt John was not properly representing her, so I
spoke up. It took a lot of courage to do that, but the directors
just started laughing and saying that I did not understand.
The directors did not take Irene’s views – or Diane’s
protestations – seriously. In short, Irene’s views were considered
laughable.
But in another context, John displays different
emotions.
Harry and John raised the Irene issue and clearly it pained
them to exclude her - this appeared to be a big issue, not just
within the company, but also in terms of the wider issues of
exclusion in society generally. John said that even at the last
minute, Irene's manager told her not to be too proud to come
back if she could not get a job. All they need from her is a
commitment to socialise with colleagues and attend the first
part of the presentation evening (the awards). John seemed
genuinely torn about what they have done in the name of
upholding values. I think there has been considerable
soul-searching going on.
The emotional reactions in the first instance (“laughing”) were
directed towards Diane, a human resources officer. In the
second instance, the emotional reactions (“soul searching”,
“pain”) were directed towards myself and three other researchers
working on a project to investigate their company culture. This
kind of emotion management utilising expressions of sincerity or
contempt to influence impressions were central in the works of
Erving Goffman. Not only did he find that people constantly
manage the way they impress others, but also that the context
substantially impacts on the emotions displayed.13
This example shows not only how emotions are influenced by
context and culture, and how consciously – or perhaps
unconsciously – we use them to manage impressions in the
presence of different people. Our emotions, furthermore, are
selected on the basis of impressions we wish to give (i.e. to
influence the opinions of the people who are with us). These
“performances” – as Goffman called them - are often polished

30

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

and convincing. We develop a capacity to ‘speak’ emotions as
fluently as our native tongue.

Emotion, Blame and Social Status
A slightly different take on emotion is found in the work of
Stephen Fineman14. In his work, emotion is still linked to
expectations, but the orientation is not linked so much to our
individual goals and aspirations as our status within the various
social groups we belong to.
In gathering stories about emotion at work, researchers found
that people talk less about themselves and their goals than their
relationships with others.15 Irene’s unhappiness – and the
relative power of Irene and John - can be understood by the level
of acceptance and tolerance shown towards them by other social
groups.
Managers claimed they wanted to help Irene to
“reintegrate”, but by seeing her as the source of the problem
(rather than the way she was seen by group members) they
communicate to Irene her changing status within the company,
the views of her peer group, and the company’s intentions.
The impact of a changed perspective is illustrated by
considering modern treatments for drug addicts that involve the
addict’s family and friends. In these treatments, the family and
friends of the addict are counselled, rather than the addict. By
challenging the way family members and friends see (and blame)
the addict, they start to change the way they behave. As the
group members’ behaviour changes, so does that of the addict,
aiding their recovery.16 Using an approach similar to this, Irene’s
“reintegration” might have been achieved by addressing the way
Irene’s colleagues view her, rather than by trying to control her
choices.
Blame, therefore, is a complex phenomenon. It may be more
than an emotional defence mechanism. It lowers the social
standing of an opponent amongst a population of people. It can
be seen as an attempt to raise the social status of the accuser
within the same group. Blame is a way of showing differences
between oneself and another – an offensive, rather than
defensive, strategy to win support through rhetorical expressions
of emotion (such as confidence, sadness, distress or anger).
In may be, therefore, that Irene’s exclusion was the end result
of a process by which some people sought to prove themselves
within the directors group as capable of being “tough” or take

What are Emotions?

31

“hard decisions” as proof of their commitment to “upholding the
culture”. Irene’s resistance can also be seen in this light, as a
person seeking to prove to others (or herself) that she will not be
“pushed around” or “intimidated” by managers.
Think of a person you dislike. What did they do to make you
dislike them? Did they physically hurt you? Did they ignore you?
How did they make you feel bad? Now think of someone who
dislikes you? What did you do to make them dislike you? How
did you make them feel bad?
How did your colleagues (or friends) react? Did the conflict affect
your standing amongst your friends or colleagues?
With
hindsight, was there anyone you were trying to impress or
distress?

Emotion and Perception
The impact of emotions on accurate perception has been studied
extensively. There is a wide range of social situations that
influence what we report to others, and it has been found
repeatedly that what we report is not always accurate. Whether
these inaccuracies are due to a failure of perception, however, is
not completely clear. In many cases, people report inaccuracies
for social reasons – their perception is fine, but they still fail to
tell the truth.
Two famous studies, the Milgram shock experiments17 and the
Asch line experiments18 shook the scientific world when they
revealed the extent to which people conform to social pressure.
In the Milgram experiments it was found that research
participants were prepared – in extraordinary numbers – to follow
a researcher’s instruction to apply severe electric shocks to
confederates∗ who made mistakes during tests. In the Asch

Confederates are people who work with a researcher covertly as part of an experiment.
They are not participants because they understand the purpose of the experiment, its
design, and the role they have in deliberately deceiving the participant to investigate
their reactions. In the Milgram experiments, the confederates pretended to experience
electric shocks – they were not actually subject to shocking. Experimental designs that
involve deliberate deception are often regarded as unethical by today’s standards.

32

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

tests, participants were shown pairs of lines and asked to say
whether they were the same or of a different length. Many
participants were reluctant to follow their own judgement when
faced with a group of confederates who disagreed with them.
These experiments were influential in establishing the subject
of social psychology and triggered thousands of studies into
group behaviour in the 1970s/1980s. They are discussed in
virtually every psychology and social psychology text book (as
well as many other popular books).
There are two aspects of the experiments, however, that need
clarification. Firstly, the impression given by some commentators
is that everyone conforms to social influence. This was far from
true - some discussions give details of the emotional impact of
truth telling and how participants who told the truth were
particularly stressed (but did so anyway). The experiments are
usually discussed from the perspective of what makes us lie,
rather than the perspective of what makes us tell the truth.
What is clear from descriptions of the experiments is that truth
telling – when contradicting other people – is a highly emotional
experience and this provides insights into why people lie.19 If, in
their own opinion, the lie told will have little impact on their own
or others’ status, it is easier to justify. Those who conformed did
so, in all likelihood, because they evaluated that the falsehood
was not important. Alternatively, they lied to reduce the emotion
they would feel from truth telling.
The other aspect that is ignored derives from a weakness in
the design of the experiments.
In choosing participants
randomly, and confederates who do not know the participants,
the participants and confederates have no (or few) emotional
bonds. This is quite different from normal life where we do have
emotional bonds with those whom we live and work. What
results would the Milgram experiments have obtained if people
were shocking their work colleagues, or friends, or family
members? Would the participants’ be more willing to disagree
about the length of the lines amongst friends and family? The
experiments, therefore, only provide ‘knowledge’ about how we
behave towards people we do not care about – not a particularly
good basis from which to generalise about human behaviour as
we spend most of our time with people with know.
The conclusion drawn from these and similar experiments is
that our perception is unreliable when in the grip of emotion.
What is more accurate to assert, however, is that we are

What are Emotions?

33

selective about the truths we tell depending on our assessment of
a situation (i.e. the meaning it has for us). Our perception may
be accurate, but we alter what we say in the light of the
situation.
When truth telling involves contradicting others we may alter
what we say to reduce the emotion we feel. From Fineman’s (or
Goffman’s) perspective, these alterations are choices that
manage others’ impression of us and control our status within the
group. Our choice depends on a quick assessment of how
important it is to tell the truth and what self-image we want to
project. Cognitive psychologists, however, might argue that
there is an error in our perception.
Can you think of a time when you disagreed with a group of
people? Were they friends, acquaintances or strangers? Could
you voice your disagreement? Can you disagree with members
of your family? Which ones? How was it at school? How did you
feel asking the teacher a question in front of a whole class?

Emotion and Sense-Making
Karl Weick points out two other problems with emotion during
investigations and decision-making. Firstly, if we cannot find a
plausible explanation that maintains a good self-image, we
progressively substitute less plausible explanations until we find
one that maintains a positive self-image. This might result in
adopting a prejudiced attitude to justify hurting someone else.
This is particularly common in war situations when the enemy is
demonised to justify bombing them. It is, in my experience, also
common in the workplace to justify the termination of contracts.
The second problem is that our emotional memories may lead
us to compare a current situation with a past situation that had a
similar emotional impact, but is quite different in other respects.
If we recall dissimilar situations to make sense of the current
situation – simply because the emotional memories are similar –
we may misinterpret the current situation. Poor judgement is the
result.
A third problem that I identified in my own research – one
that can also be a benefit – is that emotion causes us to focus
attention.
In some situations, solving a mystery perhaps,
emotion drives us towards an explanation that is otherwise

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

difficult to find. The desire to understand can be positive (if a
hunch is correct) or negative (if the hunch is incorrect).
Consider Helen Mirren in her groundbreaking role as Inspector
Tennyson (the “Prime Suspect” TV dramas).20 Her desire to
establish herself in her career, combined with a powerful desire
to convict (not just arrest) a brutal killer, sustained her through
weeks of a difficult investigation. It cost her a great deal in
personal relationship terms (her boyfriend left her) but her
emotional commitment to “nailing” George Marlow helped to
establish with precision the exact modus operandi of a highly
intelligent killer. As a result she was able to account for all the
available evidence and break his alibi.
We might contrast this fictional case with the real-life case of
Sion Jenkins. In this case, the accused was found to have lied on
his CV and the investigators took this as an indication that he
might be lying over the death of his daughter. Their suspicions
seemed to be confirmed – despite a wealth of evidence that
suggested he may not be guilty – when microscopic drops of
blood and bone were found on his jacket. This evidence was
later found to be unreliable and the conviction was quashed.
After two retrials, in which the jury could not agree on
guilt/innocence, Jenkins was found ‘not guilty’ (on the instruction
of the judge). In this case, the police had to contemplate that
their hunch – triggered by the emotive reaction to the death of a
young girl – led to a miscarriage of justice.21
The stronger our emotions, the more we have a propensity to
narrow down the focus of enquiry to end the emotional turmoil
created by contradictions. The fictional Prime Suspect case had
few contradictions (only the suspect’s evidence supported by his
spouse contradicted other evidence). The real life case involving
Sion Jenkins had an extraordinary number of contradictions, so
the investigators elevated the status of small pieces of evidence
(microscopic drops of blood) to reassure themselves that their
case was strong.
If focus is narrowed incorrectly, a miscarriage of justice can
occur. It was this process – reliance on a single piece of flawed
scientific evidence – that occurred in the Guildford Four trial.22 As
I mentioned in the introduction, the bias in ‘science’ lies not in
the process or the accuracy of the observation, but in the
purposes of those observations and the way they are interpreted
and reported. When focus is directed onto an innocent party who

What are Emotions?

35

‘looks guilty’, inconsistencies get ignored and the truth may be
lost.
The best investigator and decision-maker, therefore, is
someone who does not suppress their emotions (or try to
suppress others emotions). The best investigator is someone
who will allow their emotions to drive the search for a credible
explanation and who will continue to listen to their emotions as

evidence is considered and accounted for.

Lillian Glass, an expert on modes of communication, argues
that most people ignore vast amounts of information in order to
hold onto a particular way of thinking.23 Why? Changing our
thinking is deeply emotional, even painful. Ignoring information
allows us to avoid pain. Emotional maturity, on the other hand,
can be defined as the ability to cope with, listen to, emotional
pain as a source of knowledge.

Emotional Sensitivity and Performance
Emotional sensitivity, therefore, while painful is also a quality of
those with a gift for insight. In artists, this translates into better
“performances”. In entrepreneurs and managers, it manifests
itself in seeing market opportunities or ways of working smarter
(rather than harder). In consultants and researchers, it manifests
itself in theories that stand the test of time and scrutiny.
Emotional maturity – the ability to understand and use our
emotions productively - increases the chance that credible
information or explanations will be considered even if discordant
with existing ideas, value systems and social norms.
The danger, as I see it, of increasing “professionalism” in
management (and indeed, any sphere of life) is that it seeks to
suppress or reduce emotion by attempting to create a straight
jacket regarding which knowledge is right and wrong. What may
start as a useful set of guidelines may later be treated as rules
that must be enforced leading to the imposition of ideas and
values on those who disagree with them.
This approach
degrades both the quality of knowledge, as well as our ability to
exercise free will and moral judgement.
An alternative way to conceptualise “professionalism” is the
acceptance of diversity, tolerance and critical self-reflection.
These are part of a continual quest to understand complex
inter-relationships that trigger behaviours. Emotion is a resource,

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

a source of knowledge, not a sign that someone (else) is “losing
the plot”, or being a “whinger”, “deviant”, “oppressor”, “harasser”
or one of the other many terms we use to degrade each other in
‘civilised’ society!

Summary
The way that we value emotions depends on the way that we
understand their purpose and usefulness. In this chapter, there
are a series of assumptions that I will now summarise and put to
you as propositions for the rest of the book.
• The ability to feel sensations is genetically inherited, but
emotions are not.
• Emotions develop as we come to understand the world
about us, and are learnt and relearnt throughout our life.
• Our desires develop as we acquire ‘knowledge’ of what is
(and is not) pleasurable.
• Emotions are rooted in our cultural experiences,
constituted from cultural knowledge about what courses of
action are likely to lead to pain and/or pleasure.
• Emotions can occur in reaction to changes in our
relationships, particularly those that affect our status within
social groups we value.
• Emotions can be spontaneous expressions of feeling (a
reaction to change).
• Emotions can be deliberate expressions of feeling to assist
us in managing our relationships with others.
• Suppressing emotions leads to poor decision-making.
Businesses depend not only on being able to calculate how to
make a profit, or achieve a task, but also on satisfying the
emotional and material needs of customers, suppliers, employees
and investors so that they will continue to “do business”. Few
people want to do business with those who make them feel
worthless or afraid.
In the next chapter, therefore, I examine how relationships
develop. What is it that makes us feel valued or to value others?

What are Emotions?

37

What is it that inclines us to suggest (or make) an emotional
commitment?
Notes on Chapter 2
1

Allen, R. E (ed) (1993), Oxford Concise Dictionary, p. 383.

2

Weick, K. (1995) Sense-Making in Organisations, Sage, p. 46

3

Wundt, W. (1897) Outlines of Psychology, (Trans. C. H. Judd) Leipzig:
Wilhelm Engelmann.

4

Agor, W. H. (ed) (1989) Intuition in Organizations, Newbury Park,
Sage Publications. Other sources provided in a well regarded text
book on organisation behaviour by Stephen Robbins include: Behling,
O., Eckel, N. L. (1991) “Making Sense Out of Intuition”, Academy of
Management Executive, February 1991, pp. 46-47; Klein, G. (1998)
Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions, Cambridge:
MIT Press.

5

Notably in the introduction to Fineman, S (ed) (2000) Emotion in
Organizations, 2nd edn, Sage Publications. See also a critical

evaluation of Goleman’s philosophical assumptions in Wilson, F.
(2004) Organizational Behaviour and Work (2nd Edition), Oxford
University Press.
6

Pavlov, I. P. (1902) The Work of the Digestive Glands, London,
Charles Griffin, translated by W. H. Thompson. For a more readable
discussion see Miller, G. (1962), Psychology: The Science of Mental
Life, London: Penguin Books.

7

Berne, E. (1964) Games People Play, Penguin. Berne discusses this
capacity in the closing chapters of his book when considering the
ability of humans to rediscover their capacity for spontaneity
(behaviour normally associated with learning in early childhood). For
further discussion of our ability to unravel cultural knowledge, see
Holland, R. (1999), “Reflexivity”, Human Relations, 52(4), Tavistock
Institute. Goleman tackles similar ground in Emotional Intelligence,
Chapter 13.

8

Hochschild, A. R. (1998) “Sociology of emotion as a way of seeing” in
G. Bendelow and S. J. Williams (eds) Emotions in Social Life, London:
Routledge, p. 7.

38

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

9

Goleman, D. (1995) Emotional Intelligence, Bloomsbury, p. 5.

10

ibid, p. 5.

11

Morris, S. (2003), “Burglar has right to sue Tony Martin, Judge rules”,
Guardian Unlimited, 14th June 2003. See
http://www.guardian.co.uk/martin/article/0,,977302,00.html

12

Goleman, D. (1995) Emotional Intelligence, Bloomsbury, p. 53.

13

Goffman, E. (1969) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life,
Harmondsworth: Penguin.

14

Fineman, S. (ed) (2000) Emotion in Organizations, 2nd edn, Sage
Publications.

15

Sandelands, L. and Boudens, C (2000) “Feeling at Work” in Fineman,
S (ed) (2000) Emotion in Organizations, 2nd edn, Sage Publications,
pp. 46-63.

16

I am grateful to my sister Jessica for writing to me about the training
and treatment regime she has pioneered amongst aboriginal tribe
members in Australia. The destruction of aboriginal culture, and
group life, has resulted in high levels of alcoholism and drug addiction.

17

Milgram, S. (1963) “Behavioural study of obedience”, Journal of

Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67: 371-378.
18

Asch, S. (1955) “Opinions and social pressure”, Scientific American,
193(5): 31-35.

19

See Miller, G. (1962), Psychology: The Science of Mental Life, London:
Penguin Books; Sutherland, S. (1992) Irrationality: The Enemy Within,
London: Constable.

20

Plante, L. L. (1991) Prime Suspect, London, Granada Television Ltd.
Originally shown on UK television, ITV1, 1st April, 1991.

21

BBC News (2006) “Jenkins Cleared in Billie-Jo Case”, 9th February
2006. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/4661252.stm for
details.

22

Conlon, J. (1994) Proved Innocent: The Story of Gerry Conlon and the
Guildford Four, Penguin Books Ltd.

23

Glass, L. (2002) I Know What You’re Thinking, John Wiley & Sons.

Chapter 3 - Friendship and Flirting
Introduction
George Burns once famously said:
There will always be a battle of the sexes because men and
women want different things. Men want women, and women
want men.
Let’s have some fun with this idea and explode a few myths.
Myth:

Men are more interested in sex than women.

Science: Men and women are as interested in sex as each
other1.
Myth:

Men initiate nearly all sexual encounters.

Science: Women initiate between 65% and 90% of sexual
encounters2.
Myth:

Men are afraid of commitment.

Science: “Commitment” has different meanings, and different
consequences, for men and women3.
Myth:

Men are always “up for it”.

Science: 94% of men and 98% of women report “unwanted
sexual attention”; 63% of men and 46% of women
report “unwanted sexual intercourse”4.
Betty Friedan, one of the leaders of the modern women’s
movement in the United States, reviewed women’s growing
sexual appetite prior to the 1960s. She claims that from the
1950s onwards, it outstripped men’s5. The most compelling
contemporary evidence is that 98% of romance novels are read
by women, and this constitutes 40% of the market for paperback
books. Furthermore, most romance novels are now based on
stories about the workplace in which a man (or men!) overpower
a woman who resists.6 While romance novels cover a wide range

40

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

of books (not all contain explicit sex), they are always about the
sexual chemistry that occurs between men and women.
Consider this carefully for a moment. If nearly 40% of all the
paperbacks read are female fantasies about romance at work,
how is this impacting on workplace relationships between women
and men? And if the single most popular story line in women’s
romance novels is identical to the legal definition of sexual
harassment, what are the implications for managing the
“problem” of harassment at work? While there is a difference
between having and acting out a fantasy, having fantasies about
work colleagues changes our body language when we are with
them.
When body language impacts on work colleagues’
perceptions (whether intentional or not) a person’s workplace
fantasies starts to affect their colleagues’ workplace reality.
Another way to gauge men’s and women’s interest in each
other is dating sites on the internet and personal ads in
newspapers. While more men register on-line (60% men, 40%
women), personal ads in newspapers are consistently the reverse
(around 60% women, 40% men)7. Each places more adverts in
the place they most frequently ‘visit’. Taken together, however, it
shows that men and women seek each other in roughly equal
numbers.
On adult sites specifically designed for people to find casual
sex, however, men outnumber women by 20:1. Does this prove
that men are more interested in sex than women? No. It simply
shows that women want sex “with strings” while men want sex
“without strings”. As Warren Farrell wrote in the late 1980s:
Women are still taught to be sexually cautious until two, three,
or all four conditions – attraction, respect, emotions, and
intellect – are met. Many women add fifth and sixth
conditions: singleness and status/success. And many add a
seventh, eighth, and ninth: the man must ask her out; he must
pay; and he must risk rejection by initiating the first kiss. Men
are socialized to want sex as long as only one condition is
fulfilled – physical attraction.8
Subsequent research confirms that this is still the case.9
A few years ago, Robert Winston referred to a study during
the BBC television series Human Instinct to suggest that men are
much more interested in sex than women10. Based on a simple
test, he claimed that 75% of men, but almost no women,
responded positively to a sexual approach by an attractive

Fun, Friendship and Flirting

41

member of the opposite sex. He pointed out that fewer men
responded positively for an invitation to have a coffee than an
invitation to have sex. He then used these findings to suggest
that men were “instinctively” more interested in sex. There are
two problems with his assertions. Firstly, they ignore cultural
norms regarding non-verbal/verbal initiation in relationships;
secondly, the study actually showed that men and women were
equally interested in sexual relationships, but differed over the
time they would wait before suggesting sex.
Let us consider cultural norms first. Men are almost never
propositioned by a woman verbally (unless she is selling sex), so
if an attractive woman verbally offers sex without payment, it is
an extremely rare opportunity. That is probably why 75% of the
male respondents said ‘yes’. Being offered coffee, however, is
more common so saying ‘no’ simply reflects supply/demand
dynamics of the situation. Women, on the other hand, are
verbally propositioned more frequently. As one of my woman
friends used to joke, “if I put a picture of a can of baked beans
on my internet page, I would probably still get propositioned!”
Saying ‘no’ does little to diminish her chances of finding a sexual
partner so women prefer to check out a man first to see what
else is on offer and this explains why few female respondents
quickly said ‘yes’.
To get a feel for this, it might be interesting to do a survey to see
how willingly university age men and women would accept the
offer of a ride in a Porsche to eat in an expensive restaurant
when the car is driven by an unattractive looking 40-year-old
member of the opposite sex …
Interestingly, Robert Winston fails to mention one of the most
important findings in the original study11. An equal number of
men and women responded positively to the offer of a date
(50%). The differences emphasised in the popular media ignored
the findings regarding long-term sexual relationships and
focussed on casual sex. It tells us more about who has power in
sexual matters than who is more interested in sex.
Another way to consider this question is why do women
impose preconditions when their interest in sex is as great as a
man’s? The answer is that women are taught, most often by
other women, that sex is a source of considerable power12. As

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Nancy Friday found, men and women both fantasise by a ratio of
4:1 that the other sex will take the lead in a romantic encounter
(i.e. be the first to risk rejection). The cultural arrangement that
men should make the first public declaration of interest is an
indicator of where power really lies. Where does it lie?
Women get their wish three-quarters of the time; men get
their wish one-quarter of the time (and only then, if the man
actually prefers to take the lead and risk rejection). As men
usually have to play their hand first, power over courtship passes
mainly to the woman who can accept or reject the man. Men do
exercise this choice, but much more rarely. As a result, the issue
of how women use this power is one of the topics discussed
throughout this book.
With this ‘balance of power’ in mind, let us consider stories of
fun, friendship and flirting in the workplace. As will be illustrated,
the view that “flirting always leads to trouble” is not born out by
research or personal experience. Different studies claim that
between 40-70% of people find their partner in a workplace
setting so clearly many people flirt successfully at work13. In one
recent study, 40% of married women claimed they had changed
jobs to increase their chances of finding a husband. The
workplace, therefore, remains a primary ‘hunting ground’ for
husbands, despite the fall in the numbers of men and women
getting married14. In only 10% of cases does flirting lead to
serious problems for the parties involved, and only 20% of people
in an international survey reported that others’ close relationships
caused them problems at work15.
In this chapter, we will look at seduction success stories, how
friendship can be built through fun, and how sometimes this
evolves into flirting and a relationship. After this, I will discuss a
much misunderstood aspect of seduction – its roots in equality –
and how these techniques can be observed in same-sex
relationships, or during sales, marketing, recruitment, induction
and socialisation.

What is Seduction?
Come with me on a journey with Ben, Hayley and Diane and see
the groundwork that they lay before Hayley and Ben develop a
flirty relationship in the workplace. The following interview and
journal notes were made during an anthropological study of a

Fun, Friendship and Flirting

43

medium sized company. The principle benefit of this approach
(over retrospective interviews and stories) is the insights that can
be derived from observing events as they unfold. Only Ben gave
information about the development of the relationship, but it is
still useful and interesting (and quite rare) to see how
relationships develop from a
man’s point of view.
The idea that first impressions count
When Ben first met
is a half-truth. First impressions
Hayley,
he
was
not
matter in that we quickly evaluate a
particularly impressed by her:
person on the basis of their dress
sense, looks, talk and status (as they
appear to us in that moment).

Met Hayley. She was
pleasant, but a smoker (!).
When we say later that we realised
This morning I went through
there was something special about
inputting stuff with her - I think
the person straightaway, it is true in
she is overawed. It was nice
most cases - but the same is true of
to get to know her a bit but
any person we willingly keep as a
she’s very young. She looked
friend.
exhausted. She says she
gets up at 5.30am and gets
John Molloy, to his surprise, found
home at 8.30 at night. We
that many women – like Ben –
had a good chat in the
disliked, or were unimpressed, with
their spouse when they first met
afternoon; I talked a little bit
them. It turns out that the people
about my work. I think she
who most attract us are those who
finds it a strange place, but is
change our mind the most, after we
now working on the training
have established a first impression.
awards and that motivated her
Social psychologists agree – the
a bit. Very pleasant,
amount of change as we get to know
accommodating, she likes to
a person is more important than first
work - but....how can I put
impressions.
this....born with a silver spoon
in her mouth (I don’t wish to
be unkind). Her dad runs a
business, mum’s a lawyer. She travels a long way - you don’t
do that without someone putting money in your pocket.
First impressions, however much psychologists suggest we
rely on them, do change. As Ben later admitted:
This initial impression was not particularly accurate as she’d
held a Saturday job for years, and worked full time for
considerable periods. She proved to be confident and
resourceful, so this initial impression was probably because
she was uneasy about what she’d learnt in her first week.

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Ben and Hayley’s line manager was called Diane. During first
impressions, members of a group exchange information about
their life, where they live, their family, upbringing and aspirations.
After a short while, however, Ben reports that his conversations
with Hayley and Diane changed to ‘story swapping’.
Hayley and myself have things to do, but we have chats too.
In the morning Hayley told us about having a flat tyre and
someone stopping to change it. Then Diane told a story about
the police who once pulled her over because she had a flat
tyre, but instead of taking her to task they changed the tyre for
her! I said that was funny because I’d read a book which
starts with a story about a woman who broke down with a flat
tyre and does not even try to change it. Instead she waits for
a man to go past – who promptly stops and changes it for her.
A few weeks later this happened for real when I was driving
home with my girlfriend. I stood for 20 minutes trying to flag
down a car but none stopped so we changed places. The
women still drove straight past, but the first man that came
along stopped!
These ‘non-risqué’ stories then get replaced by stories about
love lives. A week or two later, Ben, Hayley and Diane were
telling much more personal stories:
Hayley and I got stuck back into the due diligence report. The
highlight was a relaxed friendly discussion between Hayley,
Ben and Diane. They talked about soaps, and the music and
programmes they liked. Diane then told us that her husband
had a fit body, that was why she’d stayed with him so long, in
all other respects she felt they were quite different. Hayley
gave Ben and Diane the story of her romance with her
boyfriend - that they were friends for a couple of years - then a
friend told her that he loved her. The long and short is that
apart from playing the normal games, they started going out
together. Diane then told us her husband is her second
husband - she fell in love with her next door neighbour
because they spent a lot of time together. Diane left her
husband and married her neighbour – after she left, she felt
guilty for a year and cried a lot. She said the “romance” in her
second marriage is now non-existent but she still fancies her
present husband.
After these conversations, the character of the interactions
between Hayley and Ben started to change. As Ben reported:

Fun, Friendship and Flirting

45

I think Hayley quite likes me - I don’t want to misread anything
- but she seems particularly upbeat when I see her. When I
left yesterday she said “Oh Ben! What am I going to do
without you?” I didn’t think much at the time, but it is her
reaction today that makes me think she likes me coming in;
she likes me helping her. She seems a good deal....a good
deal happier...that is the main point.
Ben also reports that they started to pay each other
compliments:
We are becoming friendly in the way that work colleagues do.
When I came in this morning, I could see she’d had her hair
done, and had her pullover over her shoulder and looked quite
swish so I did compliment her. I could see she appreciated
that.
As body language writers note, women tend to communicate
in non-verbal ways (clothing, make-up, courtship signals16).
Women have 13 identifiable courtship signals associated with
body movements and dress-sense, whereas men only have two!
Before a couple settle into equitable relationships based on chat
and touch, there is a oft-repeated pattern of non-verbal
behaviour on the part of the woman that prompts verbal
behaviour on the part of the man.
Even after the above exchanges, when I interviewed Ben
about his developing relationships at work, he did not mention
Hayley amongst his ‘friends’ – instead he talked about John,
Harry, Diane and Carol. This however, changed, when the
situation in Iraq deteriorated and Hayley became concerned for
relatives who were working in the area. When troops invaded
Iraq, the Iranian army was ordered to the country’s border to
thwart a possible invasion by the United States. Her relatives
wrote claiming US jet fighters were invading Iranian airspace and
attacking border posts. Hayley’s family were worried over the
safety of family members still in Iran.
As Hayley became concerned for her relatives, Ben became
concerned for Hayley.
I feel quite chummy with Hayley and she with me. She’s
coming out of herself quite a bit. We wished each other a
good weekend. It is her birthday next week. I promised that I
would get a cake - I’ll have to come in early to get it. I felt
really touched today. Hayley has decided to leave work and

46

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

she said “Ben, I’m going to miss you.” I said I would miss her
too. We agreed to swap email addresses. I would like to stay
in touch with her because she is an extraordinarily open and
kind woman.
The developing relationship between Hayley and Ben,
however, worried (or annoyed) a woman called Brenda. Hayley
invited Ben to the pub after work, but Brenda objected that Ben
still had to work. Ben asked if he could make up the time on
Monday, but Brenda expressed concern over a finance project.
Only after Ben assured Brenda that he was ahead of schedule did
she relent and permit him to work flexible hours. As flexitime
was the norm, and not the exception at Custom Products, Hayley
reacted strongly to Brenda’s intervention:
Hayley said that she did not like the way that Brenda had
reacted to Ben. Ben said that he thought it was right that
Brenda checked he was completing his work, but Hayley
launched into a whole series of things. She said she felt
Brenda regarded her as low status, as not having skills.
Hayley felt that Brenda did not help her enough and was
always pausing when she talked, giving the impression that
she was evaluating and judging.
There is a question over the reason for Brenda’s concern.
Was she jealous or simply trying to get Ben and Hayley to keep
their minds on their work? In checking with other managers,
however, I found Ben was indeed ahead of schedule. Ben
reported that he felt working with Hayley was making him more
rather than less productive, while another manager confirmed
that he had sent an email to Brenda expressing thanks for Ben’s
excellent work on a payroll system.
Ben spoke of the care he took in Hayley’s company:
I’m cautious about being too friendly and getting too close or
emotionally attached. It is easy to misunderstand and be too
easily flattered. But there is a real rapport. We were joking
about how she doesn’t keep in contact with people. I was
pulling her leg saying “oh, does that mean you won’t write to
me” and stuff like that because we promised to keep in touch.
Later, however, Ben’s 6 year relationship with his girlfriend
deteriorated and he started to talk to Hayley about it.
At lunch I talked with Hayley and opened up about what had
happened - not massively - but enough to know what had

Fun, Friendship and Flirting

47

happened at home. She was very kind. We amusingly talked
about my need to get back into the dating game. I said that I
thought I would wait a bit before I do that. I don’t think this is
all in the head but I get the feeling there is a sexual connection
between myself and Hayley - not that I am going to act on it but her concern is genuine. The way she talks, and the way
we now banter with each other, does indicate to me that she
rather likes me. To be fair, I think she is an attractive women
too.
Why do I think that? Because of the way she was telling me
that I “wouldn’t be lonely” and that I would have “no trouble”. I
said that I got frustrated with the games men and women play,
sometimes even when they don’t know it. She looked at me
knowingly and said “Oh yes, men and women know when they
are playing games!” I particularly remember her eyes as she
said this, they became very narrow and quite piercing. It was
light and it was nice. I don’t mind.
In the above passage, Hayley starts to take verbal initiatives.
While Ben likes the attention, he still refrains from acting on his
feelings. Perhaps because of this, Hayley starts to get even
bolder.
Darling Hayley. She kept coming up and interrupting me from
time to time. I’m sure she didn’t need to, she just likes to. She
was wearing a lovely black top today so I didn’t mind being
interrupted by her at all. We had lunch again, and again I felt just like yesterday - that there was a bit of sexual banter going
on. We were talking about the night out for her leaving do.
She asked me if I would walk her back to her car - and she
gave me such a look that I’m not sure what would happen if I
did.
Hayley and I are now flirting quite openly. I hope I’m not
overdoing it. I’m conscious that I might have enjoyed it too
much today and got carried away. At one point she said “Ben,
are you flirting with me?” I said “Yes, just a bit”, then I said “I
trust you’ll tell me to stop if you don’t like it”. Then she came
straight over and stood very close to me in the corner and
giggled in a girlish way.
In the afternoon I had coffee with Hayley. She started asking
my feelings about children, did I want children in the future? I
also asked her. In my head I’m asking myself “what is going

48

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

on here?” These are the kind of questions that you start to
ask someone when you might have a romantic relationship
with them. We agreed to swap email and mobile numbers.
She even jokingly - perhaps not so jokingly – suggested
meeting each other at Alton Towers. We are enjoying
ourselves immensely but I hope we are not being
unprofessional in our work.
Ben told me that their farewell was quite touching. They
hugged three times before she departed and then their
relationship continued by email.
Hayley,
Thought it would be nice to surprise you with an email and
give you my contact details. If you print this, take it with you
and then email me from your hotmail address I'll respond to
check we are communicating in both directions - then our
beautiful friendship can continue to unfold!
P.S. Ever flirted by email?
----Ben,
You are too naughty for words. My private email is
hayleymatthews@hotmail.com.
You can text me on 08776 398128.
Hayley
x
----Hayley,
Too naughty? Is there such a thing? Actually, you are right - I
try to be a gentleman, albeit one with a sense of fun. While I
have got into an emotional pickle once or twice during my life,
I believe strongly in monogamy and fidelity.
Enjoy a well earned rest, and I'll text you soon.
Ben
What I find interesting is the equity and positive outcome that
resulted.
However, 10 months later, Brenda sought more

Fun, Friendship and Flirting

49

detailed information from Diane about Ben’s workplace
relationships. Upon discovering a snippet of gossip, she took Ben
into a room and told him he was behaving “immorally” and
“unprofessionally”. She kept him there for nearly an hour making
Ben answer questions. His earlier caution, therefore, was wise,
but the passage of time did not protect him. In the next chapter,
we will consider the context in which this happened.

Defining Seduction and Intimacy
Unlike the typical portrayal of seduction in Hollywood romantic
films (in which men quickly save and sweep women off their feet)
everyday life seduction is characterised by three things:
• Equity
• Reciprocity
• Caution
Ben and Hayley’s friendship took 6 weeks to develop – that is
extremely quick. Often, close relationships of this kind take much
longer. As Hayley describes, it took 2 years before her friendship
with her boyfriend was transformed into a sexual relationship that
later led to marriage. My own ‘friendship’ with my wife lasted for
more than 6 months before we started meeting regularly. By
that time we were ready for greater intimacy and it took only a
few more weeks of ‘playing’ before the relationship became
physical. After two months of physical intimacy we started
talking about marriage.
Diane – in describing the transition from her first marriage to
her second one – described how ‘friendship’ developed over a
period of a year, mostly having coffee together with her next
door neighbour before she and he became self-aware of their
feelings. She then withheld physical intimacy until he agreed to
marriage – for her it had to be “all or nothing”.
Dictionary definitions of seduction often have a negative tone.
In my dictionary, the word “seduce” is described as an attempt to
“tempt or entice into sexual activity or wrongdoing” or to “coax or
lead astray”.17 These negative connotations, however, are not
born out by the above account. The outcome of seduction can
be positive as well as negative, and the evaluation itself is purely

50

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

subjective and depends on how a person reflects on the
experience after the event (see Chapter 7).
A second problem with the dictionary definition is the nature
of the behaviour that is actually seductive. Writers on seduction
draw attention to the negative impacts of neediness – both men
and women recoil from others if they sense that the person is, or
wants to become, dependant on them18. As a result, both parties
are drawn together by qualities of independence and confidence,
rather than deliberate attempts to lure people into wrongdoing.
Ironically, people often fall in love unwittingly because they are
focussing on a task and not paying conscious attention to the
dynamics that are developing.
In the film Two Weeks Notice (Sandra Bullock and Hugh
Grant), it is only when faced with parting that they begin to
realise how their feelings for each other have developed. In the
film, the honest conflict between the characters makes the drama
convincing (and funny). When Sandra Bullock, exhausted by
Hugh Grant’s selfish demands, gives her two weeks notice, both
of them suddenly take stock and realise that they want to be
together but on different terms.
Equally convincing, once they become self-aware, they begin
to dress and behave differently around each other, accentuating
their sexual differences and qualities as men and women, rather
than hiding them from each other. Bullock starts to play with her
hair, interrupt Grant’s meetings with other women, put on more
attractive clothes, and get jealous. He, on the other hand, gets
frustrated and angry that she will not show her feelings, flirts
with other women to annoy her (and perhaps to cope with his
disappointment). Eventually, he publicly declares the strength of
his feelings.
A common mistake is to think the behaviour at the end of a
long process of seduction is the only ‘seductive’ behaviour. The
following advice from Derek Vitalio’s website - adapted so that it
is relevant to both women and men – describes qualities that are
considered attractive.
You must stand up for yourself. Set rules and boundaries and
stick by them. Don’t be afraid to say “no”. If she wants the
keys to your apartment and you’re not ready to give them to
her yet, don’t be afraid to say “no”. If he wants you to drive
across the city to pickup some dry-cleaning and you were
planning on visiting your friends, don’t be afraid to say “no”.

Fun, Friendship and Flirting

51

Saying “no” is different from whining and complaining. Whining
and complaining is saying “no” while at the same time caving
into demands. That makes you look sorry and pathetic.
Always act congruently with your words. Never do something
that you know is the wrong thing to do or change your mind
just to please someone. Don’t be a pushover.
Sure, you should always listen and take into account opinions
and suggestions. But in the end, make your own best
decisions and stand up for them. Remain true to yourself and
your best judgment. That doesn’t mean you need to win every
time. But you do sometimes need to take your stand.19
In short, the most seductive behaviour is completely different
from the kind of advice dished out in popular magazines like
FHM, Cosmopolitan and Glamour such as:
…immediately after you meet him – within seconds – touch
him in some way, even if it’s just to pick off imaginary
lint…look down at his crotch…with a playful look or
smile….wear gorgeous red underwear, and show it
‘accidentally’ – your blouse is open a bit, so a man gets a peek
of red lace bra…you cross your legs and your skirt rides
up…20
In contrast, Vitalio’s advice, while intended to have strong
emotional impacts on women, is the reverse of ‘leading someone
astray’.
The eminent social psychologist, Professor Aronson, concurs
with this view.21 Happy couples, ironically, have more conflict in
their relationships than less happy couples for the simple reason
that they have learnt from each other that they can express their
opinions freely. It means more arguments, but also more
dialogue and interaction, as both parties learn the emotional
benefits from expressing both positive and negative feelings
openly to each other.
Some writers on seduction advocate that women should be
submissive and men dominant. This advice is to mistake the
game-playing of the final stage of seduction from the behaviour
that precedes it. Truly seductive behaviour comes from the
relaxed confidence of a person who values themselves and their
own opinions. Their generosity and willingness to comprise –
when finally offered – is not interpreted as manipulative, but as
an expression of genuine thoughtfulness and care.

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

It is necessary, therefore, to distinguish between honest game
playing (seduction) and dishonest game-playing that involves
tempting and then hurting the opposite sex. Eric Berne’s
excellent book Games People Play was the intellectual source for
the best-selling I’m OK: You’re OK. It devotes a chapter to
sexual games, and the motives that underlie them.22 In these
games, seductive behaviour can sometime be a trap rather than
an attempt to persuade a person into a committed relationship.
It is also helpful to review one study of 3,500 recently married
couples that found the most attractive women were dressed in
the least sexy ways. John Molloy found that the men classified
the women quickly according to their dress-sense. Those who
dressed sexily were regarded as seeking sex, rather than a
relationship.
Women who dress smartly were seen as
‘relationship’ material. Both types of women are attractive
(seductive) to men, but for different reasons.
The woman who dresses in an obviously sexy way will seduce
a man who is interested in sex, but she will alienate men
interested in longer-term relationships. The woman who dresses
smartly seduces the man interested in a relationship and
alienates the man only interested in sex. The female researchers
initially did not believe this and focus groups had to be
reconvened with different groups of men until they were
convinced23.

Seduction and Emotion
Seduction – in the sense of building an equitable and reciprocal
relationship – triggers strong emotions when parties enter the
final stage. By this time both parties are self-aware of the
feelings they have for the other, and are beginning to become
aware that the other person wants a more intimate relationship.
In reviewing Ben’s account, what is notable is how much he
resisted the idea that Hayley was attracted to him. Hayley’s
growing confidence is expressed through her dress code – and
Ben reinforces this when he pays her a compliment. Even after
this, he only fully accepts her interest when she starts to ask his
attitude to having more children. At this point, they quickly
establish commitment to ‘friendship’ that acknowledges the
sexual attraction but respects boundaries.
It is noteworthy that in a male/female context (and this would
apply to gay and lesbian relationships too) confidence brings

Fun, Friendship and Flirting

53

about changes in behaviour as the “couple” deliberately activate
each others’ sexual feelings. Intense emotions are activated
because past experience suggests to both parties there is a
possibility of sexual pleasure. As we will see below, however, a
similar process – albeit not so emotionally intense or sexual occurs in business relationships, between employers and
employees as well as customers and suppliers.
Think of a time you seduced, or felt seduced by someone. Did
you feel led astray? Did you find you could talk to that person
more than any other?
Was the relationship equitable or
one-sided? Who do you feel did most of the seducing – or was
there an unspoken mutual attraction? Did you feel respected or
disrespected? How long did the seduction last? Days, weeks,
months or years? How did you feel about the relationship when
it ended? Or are your now married, living with, or employed by
that person?

Seduction in Business
One of the most startling findings in my own research was the
similarity in the seductive behaviours of women and men to the
behaviours of employers and employees (even of the same sex).
Below, I consider my own relationship with John – a director of
Custom Products.
In my relationship with John, after an initial period of
exchanging background information about our lives, we started to
talk about our marriages. John initiated a discussion on ‘soul
mates’ when he recommended a book. The Bridge Across Forever
is a love story about a writer who puts up emotional defences to
avoid a committed relationship. Eventually, he finds that his four
year relationship with his agent is transforming into a committed
sexual relationship. The book charts the journey the writer and
his agent took. In terms of our subject matter, the book charts
both the development of a love affair, but also the development
of a business relationship.
After reading the book, I wrote to John:
As for my wife, we are having more ups than downs. I found
reading The Bridge Across Forever has given me considerable

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

resolve - that passage you and I both liked is pinned to the
wall by my desk. It helps.
We also started giving each other help with business leads
and supporting each others’ aspirations. Emails are peppered
with expressions like “take care”, “have a lovely weekend”, “hope
things are better at home”. We started to go to the pub regularly
after work to discuss a wide range of political, business and
personal issues.
After an incident where I was encouraged to play a practical
joke on John, we exchanged thoughts about it. Then, John used
a phrase that was to recur frequently.
Good to have you on board, Rory
The phrase “on board” became a feature of dialogue, an
indication of future commitment and shared values. The amount
of flattery increased. I felt sufficiently confident to share some of
my poetry and John replied:
The poem was beautiful, you are a modern Renaissance man,
it's many years since I tried my hand at poetry, I enjoy reading
it occasionally, another one of those things that seem to be an
indulgence in such a busy world, when in fact we should find
more time for beauty. Thank you for passing on your kind
thoughts. I feel a bit guilty that I have so little time to spend
with you, but I am confident that our people couldn't be in
better hands than yours.
John
The tone of correspondence at this time is such that if I
changed the name from John to Janet it is quite possible that an
observer might think we are flirting! However, this is quite an apt
way to see the exchanges. The two parties are trying to seduce
each other into committing to a long-term relationship. Shortly
afterwards, the level of candour reaches a new level.
John,
I wanted to say how much I enjoyed our drink out the other
night. I could feel myself relaxing and coming out (being
myself) and I realised how much I now value your friendship. I
appreciate that the things you shared with me were very
private - and I'm glad that you are starting to feel you know the
direction you want to take your life. As for me there seems to
be a lot of good humour at the moment so things still feel good

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55

with Caroline. Thanks for all your help and support, and I
hope to return it one day.
Best wishes
Rory
As with Hayley and Ben, the flattery is reciprocated and
enjoyable.
Hi Rory,
You are more than welcome, it's not difficult offering support to
good people like you!
Take care, see you Monday, John
Nice man, John! The motives behind the seduction are
complex. On my part, there were three reasons. Firstly, it was
to maintain good access for research purposes. Secondly, I
wanted to keep open the possibility of future work for the
company. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I liked John and
found him interesting. On John’s part, the additional motives
became clear when he offered employment.
Hi Rory,
We were completing some strategic planning this week and
were contemplating succession planning over the next three
years. One of our dilemmas has always been the search for
potential senior managers/directors. It would be really good if
we knew exactly what aspirations you had over the next three
years and whether a career here is something you would wish
to pursue. Give this some thought and let me and Harry know
how you feel when we get together.
Take care, kind regards as ever
John
In concluding this section on employer/employee seduction,
the most compelling finding is that apart from deliberately fuelling
sexual desire, the process of same-sex seduction (or cross-sex in
the case of lesbian and gay women and men) follows almost
exactly the same path as heterosexual seduction.

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Summarising the Seduction Process
Figure 1 – The Stages of Seduction

Stage 1
Provision of access, willingness to
exchange in information.

Stage 2
Acquire and give information to
provide insights into other intimate
relationships.

Stage 4 (Non-Sexual)

Stage 3

Clarify goals, make commitments,
engage in ritualistic behaviour.

Provide emotional support, flatter
and protect each other's ego.

(Stage 4 - Sexual)
Change dress code, body language
and communication to stimulate
sexual desire.

Figure 1 shows the different stages of seduction.
A
relationship may fail at any stage. During stage 1, both parties
behave in ways that provide access and communicate a
willingness to engage in information exchange. During stage 2
there is a continuing interest in acquiring information about the
other. Initially, the information is biographical, but later each
starts to tell stories about their life. The stories are initially nonrisqué, but if interest in maintained the stories become more
personal so that each understands the state of the other’s
intimate relationships.
In stage 3, parties use this knowledge to provide emotional
support. They may flatter each other to protect and develop

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57

each other’s ego. Each contributes to the sense of well-being of
the other and their own confidence grows. In stage 4, this
confidence is manifest through an increasing level of intimacy.
Each clarifies their goals and talks about the relationship they
would like. In some business contexts, this may be ritualistic and
formal (e.g. an employment or supply contract negotiation). It
may be accompanied by changes in clothing, body language and
communication. In sexual relationships, changes involve rituals,
and playful behaviours, that stimulate each other’s sexual desires.
If there is a long-term intent, future aspirations and commitments
will be discussed.
In obtaining feedback from women, I received two interesting
comments. Firstly, one person claimed that sometimes people
‘live a lie’ and obscure the truth about their current relationships
in order to seduce someone. This can happen but the seduction
will fail if the true state of these relationships is revealed, or one
party starts to distrust the other. A person will normally reject
the seducer if they are found to be deceitful. Living a lie is not
the best seduction strategy, particularly if the goal is a committed
relationship.
The second comment was that seduction might be
spontaneous and “for no reason at all”. I can concur that the
seduction may be rapid – two people can go through all four
stages in a matter of days (or hours!) if both enjoy spontaneity.
Such behaviour might be found in holiday romances, or when
people strike up quick relationships away from home at
conferences or weddings. Spontaneous behaviour, however, is
still purposeful and meets immediate emotional needs, even if not
well understood. However long it takes, the pattern of behaviour,
rather than the length of the intended relationship is the hallmark
of seduction.

Defining Intimacy
A successful seduction leads to intimacy – a relationship in which
previously private feelings and thoughts can be openly expressed
and exchanged. As a verb, intimate means “to state or make
known”24. As an adjective, intimate means “closely acquainted,
familiar”. It can be used of people (i.e. “intimate friend” or of
knowledge (i.e. “intimate knowledge of a subject”). Intimacy,

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

therefore, is linked to the idea of detailed knowledge about
something or someone.
It is not necessary to engage in sexual acts, or have sexual
desires towards another, for a relationship to be intimate. As a
noun, an intimate means “a very close friend”, not a lover. For a
relationship to be intimate, an awareness of the other’s sexual
intentions and aspirations is typical, but it does not follow that
there has to be sexual interest (even if this sometimes develops).
Sometimes a relationship becomes more intimate when parties
agree there is no mutual sexual interest (or that any interest will
not be pursued).
Amongst anthropologists like myself, an “intimate” is a term
given to a person who provides information that is normally
secret or hidden from others. In my work, I only succeed if I can
build a network of “intimates” inside a company and compare the
private reality of their lives to public claims about the culture.25
Seduction (of the honest variety), and the ability to handle
multiple intimate relationships, is a necessary – and dangerous part of my work. Misunderstandings can and do happen!
Intimacy develops when two people seek to give each other
both attention and assistance. In giving and getting attention,
they seek opportunities to increase levels of access and
information. As the amounts increase, emotional changes occur.
If these are expressed openly, the parties feelings and future
intentions affect whether the exchanges will continue.
Sometimes, they stop.
When they continue, however, each offers different types of
assistance. Physical assistance may range from helping with a
task that requires physical labour to physical affection.
Intellectual assistance could entail working out how to perform a
task or advice on personal relationships. Material assistance may
be paying for a meal or making a long-term financial commitment
(through employment or marriage).
Figure 2 shows the interpersonal dynamics that occur during
the development of intimacy:

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59

Figure 2 – Interpersonal Dynamics and Intimacy

Economic
Tasks

Social
Networks

Intellectual

Material

Assistance

Physical

I
N
T
I
M
A
C
Y

Information

Emotion

Attention

Access

The strongest personal friendships involve dynamics of this
nature. The strongest marriages also take on this character.
Strong workplace and business relationship have this character
too.
In short, these are the dynamics inside strong and
committed relationship of any type.
In an intimate relationship, both parties reassure ‘the other’ of
their commitment by maintaining levels of attention and
assistance. Those that start to resist assistance and attention –
or avoid equitable exchange - are proactively avoiding intimacy to
limit the development of the relationship. There can be many
specific reasons for this, but all are underpinned by an emotional
need to exercise caution. This might derive from emotional or
physical hurt in a previous relationship, or to protect another

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relationship. Emotional defences frustrate the development of
intimacy and keep an individual safe (emotionally and physically
speaking) for other relationships.
Strong relationships and the maximisation of economic
efficiency goes hand in hand with the ability (and willingness) to
overcome fears of intimacy. When this is achieved, relationships
become more honest, information accuracy improves and fully
informed decision-making can take place. For this reason,
employers – particularly human resource departments – have
developed a keen interest in the processes of persuasion that
underpin seduction.

Corporate Seduction
The anecdotes below illustrate a fascinating aspect of corporate
life – the deliberate seduction of employees through the process
of recruitment, induction and socialisation. Certainly, not all
companies self-consciously organise their induction processes this
way, but since the rise of ‘culture management’ in the 1980s –
led by Peters and Waterman’s In Search of Excellence arguments for the conscious socialisation of each employee has
gained credibility. Culture management – as a way of inducing
commitment from employees – has become mainstream, but
recently it has been subject to rigorous and critical scrutiny which
has revealed unintended side-effects.

Perspectives on Culture Management
In a landmark paper, Hugh Willmott identifies the central
characteristic of ‘culture management’ as the systematic
seduction of employees so that their desires and wants match
those of senior managers.26 This characterisation of seduction is
at odds with the equitable process I have just described. Let me,
therefore, consider criticisms of culture management that have
surfaced.
Firstly, an obstacle – often unacknowledged by its advocates –
lies in the governance systems and legal frameworks to which
organisations have to comply. There is a contradiction between
the hierarchical nature of organisational life and the equitable
nature of seduction. Unless equity can develop on both sides, full
seduction cannot occur – neither is able to commit fully to the
relationship. Both charity and company law place legal duties on

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61

senior executives. As a result, there are unequal responsibilities
placed on different contributors leading to inequities that
frustrate the development of intimacy (and, by implication,
organisation efficiency).
Secondly, groups often develop their own intimate behaviours
and thrive by differentiating themselves from other groups.
Loyalty is expected from anyone seeking to be a member and this
is expressed through public declarations of commitment to group
values (established indirectly by leaders and followers through
humour and the way they handle disputes and disagreements).
While this promotes intimacy within groups, it frustrates intimacy
between groups.
To get an idea, think of Romeo and Juliet, or West Side Story.
These dramas show how intimate relationships across group
boundaries can be fraught with problems because of conflicting
demands that group members be loyal to members of their
existing group (i.e. show hostility to members of other groups).
This dynamic also plays out in corporate settings.

Contradictions in Corporate Seduction
Tom Peters, one of the principal
management argues that companies:

advocates

of

culture

…simply allow for – and take advantage of – the emotional,
more primitive side (good and bad) of human nature. They
provide an opportunity to be the best, a context for the pursuit
of quality and excellence. They offer support – more,
celebration; they use small intimate units...; and they provide
within protected settings opportunities to stand out….27
This is a useful quote except for the reference to the “more
primitive side” of human nature. I would argue, on the basis of
the previous chapter, that our emotions are the “most evolved
side” of our human nature. In addition, the theme of equality
and respect is recurrent - employees are talked about as if part of
a happy family.
Treat people as adults. Treat them as partners; treat them
with dignity; treat them with respect. Treat them – not as
capital spending and automation – but as the primary source
of productivity gains.28

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And there’s the rub – productivity gains. As Hugh Willmott
points out with some eloquence, there is a contradiction at the
heart of ‘culture management’. Under current company law,
companies have to operate using a system of hierarchical
controls, even if they do not wish to.
Senior managers,
therefore, can be caught between a management ideology
promoting people as valuable ‘assets’ and a system of law
entitling directors (or shareholders) to force managers into laying
off staff when trading conditions worsen.
Employees regularly see managers disposing of employees
(through sackings, redundancies or programmes for replacing
permanent posts with temporary staff on renewable contracts).
As a result, they understand fully the limits of the ‘equality’ and
‘reciprocity’ on offer. While there are calls for loyalty, and
penalties for disloyalty, employees are constantly reminded that
the CEO may wish to make them redundant next year to secure
their own job and restore profitability (or, as the CEO might
describe it, “to ensure the company’s survival”).
The message that reaches employees is something like the
following:
…if you behave (don’t question the ‘culture thing’) and
conform (‘jump through the hoops that we set and play the
games that we organise’) then you’ll probably keep your job
when there is another shake up – but don’t hold me to that!
Where employees work out that there is deliberate and
conscious manipulation of their thoughts to achieve productivity
gains (and believe the gains will not be fairly shared with them)
this triggers powerful counter-cultures known as ‘soldiering’. In
such a counter-culture, workers maximise their own gains while
minimising the help they give other groups (e.g. managers).
Such counter-cultures are not inevitable. If ‘culture management’
is coupled with genuine decision-making power, and fair surplus
sharing arrangements, it can produce results claimed by its
advocates.29 Even then, the results do not satisfy everyone.30

Recruitment
Culture management techniques are sophisticated and rely on
knowledge gained from psychology. During recruitment, the
company finds out a great deal about employees. Some may find
this intrusive, but usually these high levels of attention give the

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impression that recruiters are genuinely attracted to the recruits.
Tours are given, information is carefully dispensed, interviews
explore candidates’ background, ask them to talk about their
personal lives. While this is all done in the name of getting a
‘rounded picture’ of the candidate, behaviour is carefully
scrutinised to see if a person is a ‘team player’ (i.e. sociable and
willing to conform to group norms).
At Custom Products, the first interview evaluates the
following:
• First Impressions
• Working/Learning in Organisations
• Personal and Professional Development
• Socialising
• Team Player
• Cultural Fit and Philosophy
• People Skills
• Motivation, Resilience and Honesty
The candidate remains largely unaware that while they are
talking about their life and upbringing, and the good and bad
times they had in each job, the interviewers are considering these
aspects of their life and character.
In some job interviews, people are given tough questions on
the requirements of the job, or why they want to work for the
company (to see if they have bothered to find out what the
company does). In contrast, Custom Products’ approach is to
invite someone in for an intimate chat and give them free reign to
talk about themselves within a broad framework.
No “hard” questions are asked, although sometimes people
are unsure what to say when asked about their “personal
philosophy”. Despite the lack of challenging questions, the
interview process can be deeply emotional. Here is how I
described the interview process after going through it:
I got emotional several times; firstly, when we discussed a
management training course I attended – Diane (the
interviewer) shared her own experience that was similar.
I could feel my body going tight and rigid while talking about it.
Secondly, I got emotional talking about my strengths and

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weaknesses. I focussed on 'caring too much' and sometimes
hurting people. At one point I felt tears in my eyes.
Such descriptions were quite common amongst new recruits.
After talking for 3 hours or more, and culminating with questions
about the most intimate areas of a person’s private life, it was
common for interviewees to experience extremes of emotion and
sometimes shed tears.
In place of the formal testing approach characteristic of
‘rational’ recruitment, Custom Products created an informal
atmosphere. And they did not push candidates to do anything.
This – I found – was deliberate. They only wanted people to
work for them if they were motivated to do so without pushing
them. Publicly, this was justified as a way of ensuring they only
offered jobs to people who really wanted to work for them. A dip
into books about seduction, however, suggests that the motive
may be to increase the attractiveness of the company to the
recruit.
The rationale, according to managers, was that people should
“deselect” themselves if they are not willing to accept the culture.
However, the techniques used are consistent with psychological
manipulation designed to induce commitment subconsciously.
The first technique is deliberately stoking a person’s emotions. A
leaflet is sent to the candidate about the company. This includes
personal stories and tributes to former staff that produce an
emotional response. An appeal to sentiment rather than logic is
regarded as the “peripheral” route to persuasion and works by
triggering emotions which reduce scrutiny of logical arguments.31
Everyone, it seems, is a sucker for a “good cause”.
The leaflet also contains a challenge: members must accept
not only the rights defined through consultation with staff, but
also various responsibilities.
The responsibilities include
upholding values of respect, support, fairness and consistency, as
well as responsibilities to work flexibly in return for a share of
profits. These moral challenges also provoke an emotional
response by challenging candidates to be selfless in order to
make a “contribution to the community”.
The second technique is to get the candidate to proactively do
favours for the company32. In the recruitment process, the
potential applicant has to visit the offices, take a tour, take an
application, fill in the application (in addition to sending a CV),

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65

read a leaflet etc. While this is presented as something for the
candidate’s benefit, it actually produces a particular mindset.
An applicant to Custom Products has to justify six separate
proactive favours that other companies may not require.
Repeatedly getting someone to do favours while inducing
emotional reactions is a technique used by professional seducers.
Each favour produces dissonance (it requires additional effort on
the part of the candidate that they must justify to themselves).
Those who perform the favour have to convince themselves that
the requester is worthy of the favour. Each favour they perform
increases the attraction of the company to the candidate.33 The
design of the recruitment process, therefore, does more than
screen out those who are not interested - it increases the interest
of those who are already interested.

The Effects of Supply and Demand
During the recruitment process, candidates are – to put it bluntly
– being ‘wooed’ in an extremely subtle way. It can, however,
backfire. It may inadvertently benefit conformists (those who get
emotional pleasure from fulfilling others’ expectations), or be
more attractive to those who enjoy the challenge of navigating
cultural obstacles to ‘success’. Those with a strong need for a
change of employment will make more effort, while those who do
not will make less. Those who do not receive the attention to
which they are accustomed may sense that the company does
not respect them (or their skills). Consequently, they may be less
willing to engage in rituals that demonstrate commitment, or turn
in a poorer ‘performance’ at interview even though they are
stronger candidates.
I witnessed the effects of such a backfiring process during the
1980s/90s in the IT industry.
Compulsory tendering was
introduced into the public sector and strongly promoted by the
then Conservative government as ‘best practice’. By the end of
the decade, however, a number of our competitors (the more
successful ones) privately admitted that they were no longer
submitting tenders. Their reputation, based on previous work
and word-of-mouth recommendation, was sufficient to create
demand and they preferred to build relationships with those they
desired to work with, rather than engage in tender processes that
few perceived as fair. Two common questions upon being invited

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

to tender were: “How many other companies are tendering?
Who are they?” A guarded response may result in no tender (if
busy) or a half-hearted tender (if not busy).34
Just as good model agencies are inundated with approaches
from attractive women (and publishers and literary agents with
unsolicited manuscripts from talented writers) able companies do
not need to proactively seduce potential recruits or customers.
The impact of supply/demand dynamics requires that would-be
models and writers have to proactively seduce busy agencies
rather than the other way around.
Think of the last time you recruited or were recruited by an
organisation. What was the process? What information was
provided to you? Was anything important withheld? What was
expected of you? What did you provide to them? What did you
withhold? Was it equitable, enjoyable or stressful?
All organisations develop a process – formal or informal – to sell
themselves (or not) to potential recruits. All recruits develop a
process (or not) that projects an image to a potential employer,
customer or supplier. Are you self-aware of your process?

Induction
The recruitment process at Custom Products goes a long way to
completing stages 1 and 2 of seduction. The third stage involves
deepening the relationship so that people feel they have
emotional support. This happens in a variety of ways. Firstly,
people have a week long induction during which they work for an
hour or two in every department (or at least sit with someone
who explains their work).
Compare this with one of my former work colleagues who, on
his first day of one new job was directed to sit in the corner, read
a manual, then “get on with it”. At Custom Products, a new
recruit meets dozens of people in the first week and talks to each
of them for an hour or more. The impact is measurable. Here is
how I described my second induction day.
Larissa said that 'one thing you'll find about this place is that it
is full of nice people, really laid back'. I appreciated this - it
was as if she was giving me the 'inside' view that it was a good
place to work…I liked her - at lunch when I went to sit on a

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67

table by myself she indicated I should join her. I sat with her
as she introduced me to her friend Irene. Larissa was about to
go on her first 'social' with some of the other ‘girls’ from the
production department - they were meeting up outside work
for a curry.
Larissa mentions ‘socials’. This was a word that many people
used to describe regular get togethers. During recruitment,
people who do not like to socialise with their work colleagues are
screened out. Those who later refuse to take part in compulsory
social events are (if they do not relent) encouraged out of the
company.
‘Socials’ are one place were stages 3 and 4 of the seduction
occurs.
The recruitment of people who like to socialise
guarantees that most people will give each other affection and
attention. Below, Ben describes the dynamics at an after work
drink:
People are bonding inside the team. I went and got a card
and cakes for Hayley’s birthday and when I gave them to her
she gave me a hug. Then I told her I had not had a good
weekend. I was a bit cautious at first - I said all relationships
have their problems - but then she opened up and told me
about her mother having breast cancer and how this had
affected her and her family over the last decade. I found
myself explaining in more detail about what had happened at
home. We listened to each other - I think this isn’t anything
more than friendship - but it was nice to talk a bit. I did feel the
need to talk. I just feel closer and closer to people at work.
John was also there, and he opened up about the past. Harry
and some other directors all have Physical Education degrees.
They have this common bond between them through an
interest in athletics. There were lots of people opening up and
getting to know each other better, talking about themselves
and their past, giving details about little things that let others
into their lives. This is not just within our team – this drink was
after a class to learn about the culture. We were all chatting
away and talking about Diane’s son and the great battle she
has over his schooling. I think she needed to get it off her
chest. She says that she does not get out for a drink often,
which (laughs) means that maybe I’m bringing her out of
herself, I don’t know, because she’s been out for a drink
several times with me.

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Formal Company Events
If stages 3 and 4 are not achieved at ‘socials’, an annual
Presentation Evening provides another opportunity to give people
emotional support and sexual attention.
At this event,
newcomers are welcomed formally, and awards are given to
outstanding achievers.
Diane described the format of the
evening:
Gifts are given to newcomers, and those with 5, 10, and now
15 years service. The two big awards, however, are for the
person who has developed the most, voted for by managers,
and the person who best embodies the values and culture of
the company. The second award – named after the company
founder - is voted for by all permanent employees with more
than 1 years service…I chatted to the person who received the
award this year and was really moved. She told me that when
she heard her name, her mind went completely blank (pause)
…she could not remember anything after that. To be voted
this award by your fellow employees must be an experience
beyond measure, I imagine.
Diane did not have to wait long to experience this herself – a
year later she won the same award and I talked to her
afterwards. She said that the whole evening became something
of a blur after winning and she felt as if she was on “cloud nine”
for several days.
Diane also talked about the bawdier side of the evening:
We had a 'Bum of the Year' award in which staff voted for the
most attractive butt from a series of pictures. These were the
butts of a number of male members of staff…The women did
something similar – men voted for ‘Bust of the Year’. John - to
his horror (he thought his butt would not be attributed to him) was named as 'Bum of the Year'. It was hilarious - John’s butt
was amazing, when I first saw it I thought it was as good as
any male model!
I missed the Presentation Evening in 2002, but was able to
attend one that took place in 2003. The highlight of the evening
was a series of departmental ‘presentations’ with staff doing
wacky and outlandish things so others could have a good laugh.
There were also two set-piece sexual extravaganzas. Firstly, a
group of the women appeared on the big screen dressed in
suspenders and stockings to the tune of It’s Raining Men. Then

Fun, Friendship and Flirting

69

from all sides, groups of male employees ran around them as
they pretended to dance in a sexual way. Not to be outdone, the
men prepared a version of the Full Monty – but did not do the
entire striptease.
After this, there were some semi-formal speeches and awards.
As Harry wound down the award ceremony and directed people
to the dining areas, he told the audience that he had one more
surprise. Up started the music to the Full Monty again and on
marched the half-dozen men who had been on the video screen.
They completed the rest of the dance and when they took away
their hats – all six had a flashing red willy attached to a skimpy
thong!
Through these corporate rituals, stages 3 and 4 of seduction
are given a boost.
People’s egos are flattered during
presentation ceremonies, and they receive (sexual) attention
through the departmental attempts to participate in corporate
“fun”. The sexual extravaganzas are deliberately organised in the
hope that having “fun” together will promote bonding between
staff and induce them to increase their emotional commitment to
the workplace.

Consultations
The serious end of the process, however, comes when staff are
asked to participate in key decisions about the company’s future.
In 2004, a stage 4 situation arose when company executives put
proposals to staff for an employee-buyout.
The day was
controlled by Harry and John – the two most senior directors.
Each wore radio microphones so that wherever they walked, they
could talk to all staff.
The day started with humour – with Harry showing pictures
from a company day-trip to Venice. He cracked a series of jokes
about the gargoyles on the roof of the churches, then displayed a
church spire sporting a Robin Hood-like archer (to indicate the
wind direction). Harry paused for effect, then said:
I have no idea how John got up there!
Such self-depreciating humour went down extremely well. As
a quick look at social psychology texts reveal, however, humour
not only relaxes people, it also triggers hormonal reactions in the
brain that make people more susceptible to persuasion. This is
why Emily Duberley advises that a good way to ‘pull anyone’ is

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laughter because “a shared sense of humour is a great way to
bond”.35
The presentations and discussions went on all morning. Most
staff seemed to be enthusiastically doing what was expected of
them. But on one table, a woman called Tanya was red-faced
and growing more angry by the minute. I decided to go over and
have a chat. She commented that:
This whole day is an insult to any thinking person and an
exercise in manipulation. When John speaks up it is just like
previous years – they pick the groups who make the
comments they want to hear and then everyone is told to
consider what they say. Only 3 tables out of 12 made the
point we are now discussing, but now we are all discussing it
because that is what Harry and John want us to discuss.
Some of her colleagues supported her point of view. Tanya,
who had worked in the company for over 10 years complained
that the answers to the questions had already been rehearsed.
This was true. I attended meetings between managers and a
director where the latter gathered questions then worked out
answers for a follow up meeting. During the ‘consultation’, I
heard managers giving these answers to staff who asked similar
questions to their own.
I even heard people repeating
arguments, word for word, that I had contributed to the earlier
meeting.
Fred believed it was not a genuine debate but a fait acompli –
directors were using sales techniques to sell proposals back to
their own staff. Terry described an earlier ‘consultation’ as a
“bitter pill to swallow”.
My own view – expressed to several people that day – was
that Harry and John both wanted to get the rewards they had
been working towards for a decade by selling the company (they
stood to make about £3m between them if the proposals went
through). At the same time, they were committed to ensuring
that future wealth was owned and controlled by the staff through
an employee trust. Although there is a debate to be had over
whether they were exploiting their own staff twice over36, when
compared to other businesspeople Harry’s and John’s proposals
were generous and heart-felt.
Harry claims he could have doubled the money he made by
selling the company privately or taking it public – a moot point if
you think this money was already acquired through exploitation

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71

of workers’ labour – but in his own mind he was giving up about

£2.5m of his own future income to ensure that the staff could
own the company. There is an integrity of sorts here and most

staff understood this.
At the conclusion of the day, Harry used a powerful emotional
appeal, and the staff’s reaction says a great deal about the extent
to which he had seduced them:
He said to them “I could not contemplate selling without giving
employees the opportunity”. Then he exhorted them to “back
themselves” and “buck the trend” before asking loudly “who
rightfully owns this company?” At this point staff
spontaneously broke into a round of applause.
Two months later, 76% of staff voted to establish both a
governing council, elected from the workforce, and an employee
share trust that would own the company. Through ‘socials’,
‘presentation evenings’ and ‘development days’ like the one
discussed above, stages 3 and 4 of seduction are completed.
Harry and John, the two most senior directors, used an array of
techniques to enter into a long-term commitment with their
workforce. They seduced them into a new type of relationship
through which ownership passed from a minority of shareholders
to a employee-owned trust.
Whether the seduction was equitable and in the interests of all
parties is a different matter. Those people in the company who
perceive the changes as equitable will become more committed
and intimate with each other. This in itself may lead to the
benefits and efficiencies that are envisaged (a self-fulfilling
prophecy). Those who object may leave, or challenge the way
reforms are implemented, creating unforeseen problems that
future generations will have to address. Perception and emotion
will continue to play a role in determining future outcomes.

Seduction in the Sales Process
The kinds of techniques described here can be reproduced in the
sales process, and it has long been appreciated just how effective
the use of attractive people can be in advertising. Supermodels
and sportspeople, particularly if they are flaunting their sexuality,
or less well known models hinting at sex, have created legends in

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the advertising world (e.g. the Gold Blend ‘love story’ over a cup
of coffee, ‘size matters’ selling cars to women etc.).
Mintel, the leading marketing intelligence agency, captures
contemporary views on advertising in its 2002 report. Subtle but not crude - references to sex remain the most effective with
‘sophisticated’ consumers. They like to be wooed with humour.
The report also highlights, for the first time, that men are
growing tired of the way they are ridiculed in adverts, even
through such adverts remain popular amongst women.37
Remarks need to be obvious enough to activate a viewer’s
imagination but not so blatant that they are offensive.
Sophisticated consumers (defined as social classes A, B and C)
prefer to be seduced through wit and understatement. In other
markets, however, a more bawdy approach can be successful.
The Daily Sport did not grow so fast through understatement or
subtle displays of sexuality!
It is unlikely that you need much persuading that advertisers
use these techniques regularly, so I will not discuss them here.
In the case of relationship-building in sales work, however,
consider the following conversation about Simon. In this letter,
Andy (Chief Executive) writes to Gayle (Company Secretary):
Simon [Marketing Manager] made a lot of your looks – your
‘presentability’ shall we call it – as a potential advantage to the
company, but I was less convinced that this was an
appropriate reason to appoint you. You deserved the post on
the basis of your experience. I think Simon’s attitude came
across quite regularly in the workplace. He was all for you
doing sales stuff without regard for your discomfort about
selling. This was rooted in his view that all the systems he
was involved in purchasing were demonstrated by women!
What does that tell you about his previous workplace? What
does that tell you about Simon?
Not to mention the suppliers! One of my research participants
– a salesperson with over 30 years experience – was convinced
that “people buy from people”. They were cynical about the
effectiveness of marketing hype when a product or service
required some explanation to use, or the financial outlay required
group approval. While marketing hype can work with a consumer
product, in other circumstances sales staff use seduction skills (in
the widest, not just sexual sense).
Research, however,
repeatedly shows that sales can be grown by having people

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sexually attractive to the customer involved in contract
negotiations, even in professions that are completely unrelated to
sex.38
The best salespeople are experts in seduction but this does
not necessarily imply the process is dishonest. One salesperson I
worked with was called David – twice salesperson of the year at
his previous employer. He had a favourite story:
There was this big account that I wanted to win. It was not
hard to convince the techies that they needed the system but
the manager was a much harder nut to crack. I had lunch with
him one day and he kept going on about these reports that
were required by the directors – it really was the bane of his
life and he was so distracted that he did not want to talk about
the system I was trying to sell.
When I returned to the office, I chatted to some of our own
guys and they helped me work out how I could produce the
reports that the manager needed. The next time I went to see
the client, I took samples along. The “hard nut” cracked and
became the biggest advocate for the new system - we sold it
without any more problems. He was my best customer for
years afterwards.
David told me this story to stress that sales is about
problem-solving, not just about looking good (i.e. doing slick
‘presentations’ or being presentable) it is about meeting and
exceeding the expectations of your client. He agreed, however,
that people particularly enjoy being helped (seduced) by
someone they find desirable. Even if understated, the process of
sales – and any other aspect of ‘doing business’ - is most
effective when personal chemistry combines with a genuine
desire to assist the other.
Whether David really cared about this client – and he assures
me that he did - is a moot-point. His behaviour showed that he
cared enough to go back to his office, think about the problem
troubling his client, and help out as best he could. This
willingness to care is a pre-requisite of seduction, but it only
works – ironically – when it does not come across as self-sacrifice
or a betrayal of the sellers’ interests.
When a person ‘cares too much’ or appears to be acting
against their own interests, it has the reverse effect because the
impression created is that a person ‘looks desperate’. Drawing on

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the advice of Derek Vitalio again, but adapting it for both
genders, let us look at why people are not seduced into
commitments by someone who is overgenerous:
Somewhere along the way you systematically rewarded them
for bad behaviour. You are rewarding them for spoiled, rotten,
moody, cold behaviour. This loses their respect. Or perhaps
you got into a relationship with a person spoiled by others and
you are continuing their rotten education. How did you get
stuck in this tragic situation in the first place? You caved into
every whim no matter how inconvenient it was to you.39
There is an irony here – a person’s seductive skills are
strongest when they are not too generous, even if that means
sometimes being forceful, assertive (and maybe even angry) with
another when they make demands. The issue here is not that
you resort to bullying, rather that you show your commitment to
equity, a balance of power, and that you will neither take the
other party for granted or be taken for granted by them.
There is one word of caution, however. Any person habitually
used to getting their way is likely to get angry or distressed if you
resist their demands. However, it is inadvisable to reward their
behaviour by ‘caving in’ until they acknowledge and listen to your
point of view!

What Happens if the Seduction Fails?
Sometimes, the reality of the workplace hits home. Managers
have limited time and cannot give equal amounts of attention to
all. This means that – in a company organised hierarchically –
managers are selective in the attention and support they give
their staff. Even if a manager is trying to be fair, it may not be
perceived by those who feel slighted and ignored.
The seduction may fail for reasons beyond managers’ control.
Weekend working, seeing people get sacked, workers talking to
friends who want to leave or who have seen people hurt by the
selective attention of those “in power”, failing to get a pay rise
that was perceived as a promise - all these experiences reinforce
that there is a pecking order determined by senior staff.
Decisions are perceived as top-down rather than bottom-up.
Except in those rare organisations that allow staff to elect and
subject their own leaders to critical questioning – and sometimes
even then - the reality of organisational life is that hierarchies

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develop in response to top-down appointments and the time
pressures on managers.
Emotions are activated and then
crushed by the lack of time (or lack of desire) to accommodate
others’ perspectives.
At Custom Products, one person anonymously sent me their
response to a staff satisfaction survey complaining that after two
years of exceeding their targets they had not received either a
pay rise or promotion that recognised their contribution. They
gave directors 2 out of 10 on a number of questions, but 8 out
of 10 to their immediate line manager. The tales of people like
these – and there were several from different parts of the
company - were characterised by an increasing fear of managers,
alienation, emotional distress, despair and the “oppression”
typically associated with totalitarian states.
After 5 years of continuous ‘temporary’ employment, one
women who failed an interview for a permanent position said
“I just don’t know what they want from me”. Others resented
having to attend an interview at all after several years of working
for the organisation.
In this case, she gave up and got
employment elsewhere. Those marginalized talked of ‘spies’,
‘politburos’ and ‘communist’ behaviour where you could not trust
even your friends and close work colleagues to keep confidences.
The contractual obligation to be ‘open and honest’ worked in
managers’ favour. Staff were often too scared – if challenged –
to withhold the nature of private conversations for fear of losing
their job. At the same time, senior managers would not allow
their own motives to be debated openly and honestly when I
sought to investigate controversial conflicts. The “open and
honest” requirement theoretically applied to all staff. In practice,
it was strongly influenced by power relations linked to hierarchical
line management.

The Paradox of ‘Caring’
What sort of effect does a well planned seduction have on
employees? This is how I described my feelings after working at
Custom Products for two months.
If the way that I’m feeling now is anything to go by, the way
that people are perceiving me and the way that people are
reacting to me, it is changing my view of myself. Not only can
I see what a wide range of skills and contributions I can

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make… (pause) but I just like myself more (long
pause)…(tearfully)…and that is so good.
After 9 months, at the point I left Custom Products to start
micro-analysing the data I had collected, the tone of my
reflections had changed somewhat:
I found the place more oppressive than I expected. There was
not a live and let live approach. This was shown by the
smoking issues and also with regard to sexual conduct, partly
of women, particularly of men. I saw inconsistencies in the
way peers/managers regarded flirting. The tendency was
toward oppression when the organisation wanted to get
someone out. They upheld values with rigour but occasionally
that offended my sense of fairness. I accept comments that
sometimes people mistake having a voice for getting their
way. Even so, the control was quite strong and while
disagreement is tolerated, resolution must be achieved
through the structures that are set up for it. The problem is, of
course, that using those structures almost certainly
guarantees that managers get their way.
After 18 months, having reviewed all the data, I was surprised
at the number of conflicts recorded and how explosive these
could be.
Sometimes, they were rooted in a genuine
disagreement over values - such as the refusal of the company to
confirm the permanent appointment of a “disabled” person40.
Other disagreements erupted over petty issues like who was
invited to a drink, how and where smokers could smoke, or
banter about attractiveness (see page 192).
Custom Products was a text book example of an organisation
that sets out to be ‘caring’ without pandering to employees’ every
whim. This led to a peculiar paradox. Alongside a swathe of
incoming and recent recruits enthused by the “caring culture”
there was a core of cynical long-timers who had learnt that senior
staff “treat us like children if we try to say anything against the
culture”.
Company documents claim the organisation exists “primarily in
order to enhance the lives of all those employed within it…[and]…
strives to go beyond the notion of simply a means of survival”41.
I found many staff who said their sense of well-being improved
by working amongst people who wanted (and were willing to be)
supportive friends – this played a part in transforming their lives.
For others who felt manipulated or let down by the promise of

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self-fulfilment, respect and care, it was a different story. Often
they made personal sacrifices, and gave contributions well
beyond the norm, only for their efforts to go unnoticed or
unrewarded. A picture of ‘well-being’ surfaced in analysis of staff
turnover that showed the numbers of leavers was at least twice
(and perhaps as much as four times) higher than expected.42
Corporations are well equipped to apply scientific knowledge
about seduction to their employees – they may, as was the case
at Custom Products, employ psychologists to help them with this.
If sincere, and the results are perceived as equitable to all
parties, it works. But beware the manager, or executive group,
that engages in this type of behaviour without really loving their
workforce (or who deludes themself that they do). It will be
found out, typically through management behaviours and unfilled
expectations rather than words and deliberate acts of malice. It
can trigger – gradually, or explosively - reactions characteristic of
lovers who feel betrayed or cheated.

Management Knowledge and Seduction
In reviewing this chapter with my wife, Caroline, we discussed
the nature and morality of seduction. Is seduction a euphemism
for manipulation or a way of behaving that helps people release
themselves from their inhibitions? My wife’s initial view – and the
view that is probably understood by most people – is that
‘seduction’ is a process by which someone’s desires are altered
quickly by an irresistible force. The implicit suggestion is that the
seducer leads people astray using deception, inducing them to
get into bed (or buy a product) by applying emotional pressure.
If you scan the bookshelves of Waterstones or the on-line
shelves of Amazon.co.uk, there will be an array of self-help books
that advise you how to magically transform yourself so that you
can “win friends and influence” or “make anyone fall in love with
you” or become a “highly effective manager”. These books
occasionally provide useful insights to those who already attract
people but cannot “close the deal”.
But – and it is quite a big but – the advice is usually more
useful to the party goer looking for a casual relationship or the
salesperson looking to close the easy sale. While they might help
with stage 4 – the end-game where two parties take pleasure in
games that precede an expected union - it does nothing to help

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understand stages 1 to 3 that help get them to that position. As
Caroline and I talked, we came to a more considered
perspective that sees seduction as an ongoing process by
which two people increase the level of intimacy until they
feel confident enough to make an emotional commitment.
Having made that commitment, stages 3 and 4 of seduction
can be replayed as often as required to maintain a healthy,
stimulating and interesting relationship. Or they may never be
played again, if that is what one or other party wishes. This
perspective on seduction makes clear why behaviours are similar
in different contexts. We also use sexuality, and seductive
behaviours, to find and keep good employees, win and keep
customers, get preferential treatment from suppliers, develop
business contacts, and develop lifelong friendships.
It made me realise why I get so annoyed when I see stories in
the press claiming “I was seduced by X into doing Y”. Seduction
is not always wicked and nasty, used only by the calculative and
selfish to meet ‘depraved sexual perversions’. Seduction can be
seen as a process of mutual learning, an emotionally fulfilling and
deeply honest process that helps people conquer their fears. In
the process, they gain the confidence to reveal their thoughts and
feelings in a safe and secure environment. It can also be an
experience that brings lasting emotional benefits, good health
and efficient social organisation.
This updated view of seduction offers possibilities to managers
and staff alike – within peer-groups particularly – but also in
organisations seeking to develop democratic know-how. The
promotion of intimacy becomes a guiding principle that governs
the development of social processes (e.g. marketing, selling,
grievance handling and staff development). It can also inform
governance processes and constitutional structures.
Let me round off the chapter by putting some propositions to
you that we can carry forward into the rest of the book.

Summary
The evidence in this chapter suggests the following:
• Seduction is promoted by a caring attitude, preparedness
to make commitments, attractive presentation and
honesty.

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• Seduction, underpinned by honest intent, underpins
activities that are socially (or economically) beneficial to
both parties.
• Trust and respect increase if oriented toward a long-term
committed relationship, or a mutual short-term goal.
• Trust and respect decrease if the outcome is not equitable.
Seduction involves continually broaching new subjects to
develop the relationship. The result is flirting:
• Flirting can be enjoyable and productive, if both parties
understand each others’ character, boundaries and
intentions.
• Flirting can trigger explosive conflict, if parties do not
understand each others’ character, boundaries or
intentions.
• Flirting is itself a process by which two parties establish
each others’ boundaries and intentions.
There is a circular relationship, therefore, between the ability
to flirt and ability to establish social boundaries and intentions. I
will return this in chapters 5 and 6, but in the next chapter, I
consider the impact of relationship failure on social control and
the motives for disciplining.
I consider how those who feel hurt when a seduction fails
start to discipline others as a punishment. Discipline does not
just occur between managers and workers - it also occurs within
peer-groups, sexual partners, same sex groups, as well as
customers and suppliers. Nor is disciplining seen as a way for
those who are ‘right’ to control those who are ‘wrong’. It is
viewed as a way that one person, or social group, disrupts
potentially threatening relationships, or suppresses debate that is
potentially harmful to its own interests.

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Notes on Chapter 3
1

Friedan, B. (1963) The Feminine Mystique, Penguin, Chapter 11. See
also two major surveys in India Today (2004) in which men and
women report roughly equal interest in sex, and sexual satisfaction,
and equal interest in satisfying their partner.

2

Lowndes, L. (2002) How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You,
Element. Based on academic research by Moore, M. (1985)
‘Nonverbal Courtship Patterns in Women: Contact and Consequences’,
Ethnology and Sociobiology, 6(237-247) and Perper, T. (1985) Sex
Signals: The Biology of Love, ISI Press. See also Pease, A., Pease, B.
(2004), The Definitive Book of Body Language, Orion, p. 290.

3

Farrell, W. (1988) Why Men Are the Way They Are: The Definitive
Guide to Love, Sex and Intimacy, Bantam Books, pp. 150-185.

4

Muehlenhard, C. L., Cook, S. W. (1988) “Men’s Self Reports of
Unwanted Sexual Activity,” Journal of Sex Research, Vol 2, pp. 58-72.
The study was conducted to compare men’s self-reports with those of
women found in an earlier study. The comparison’s showed that 98%
of women v 94% of men reported unwanted sexual attention, while
46% of women and 63% of men reported unwanted sexual
intercourse. The original report based on women’s responses
prompted the radical feminist claim that “all men are rapists, or
potential rapists”. By the same standard, 94% of women would also
be regarded as rapists!

5

Friedan, B. (1963) The Feminine Mystique, Penguin Books, Chapter 11
deals with the phenomenon. On page 230 she claims that after 1950
sex-stories in women’s fiction and magazines outnumbered those in
men’s magazines (without providing much “hard” data, it should be
noted).

6

Farrell, W. (2000) Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say, pp. 194195. Harlequin changed its romance formula after discovering that
70% of readers had jobs. The result? A 20,000% increase in
profitability over 10 years with nett revenues up from $110,000 to
$21m and an 80% market share. Exact sources are provided in the
original text. Let us not forget Bridget Jones Diary!

7

On-line registrations based on statistics available from FaceParty.com
in 2003. Comments on personal ads based on examination of my
local paper over a 3 year period to repeatedly check the balance

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81

between men and women seeking romance. Without fail, there are
around 5 columns of ads from women seeking men, and 3 columns
from men seeking women, and occasional ads from lesbians and gays.
8

Farrell, W. (1988) Why Men Are The Way They Are, Bantam Books,
p. 13.

9

Buss, D. M. (2002) “Human Mating Strategies”, Samdunfsokonemen, 4
- 2002: 48-58. This paper contains a brief discussion of the material
gains that women consistently seek from ‘short-term’ mating activities
as well as a review of earlier research showing that women across 37
cultures value the material wealth of men twice as much as men value
the material wealth of women. See also Smith, Amelia (2005), Girls
Just Want to Marry and Stay Home, UK Men’s Movement Magazine:
February 2005, p. 33. She states: “According to a survey of 5,000
plus teenage girls in Britain, their main ambition is to complete
university then return to the homestead – whether their partners like
it or not. More than nine out of 10 of the girls believe it should be up
to their husbands to provide for them, with 97% disagreeing with the
statement ‘It doesn’t’ matter who is the main earner, as long as we
are happy’.”

10

Winston, R. (2003) Human Instinct, Bantam Books.

11

Clarke, R. D., Hatfield, E. (1989) “Gender Differences in receptivity to
sexual offers”, Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 2(39-55).

12

Vilar, E. (1999) The Manipulated Man, Pinter & Martin, pp. 72-78.

13

Farrell, W. (1994) The Myth of Male Power, Berkley Books.

14

Molloy, J. (2003) Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others,
Element. See also Johnson, A. M., Mercer, C. H., Erans, B., Copas, A.
J., McManus, S., Wellings, K., Fenton, K. A., Korovessis, C.,
Macdowell, W., Nanchahal, K., Purdon, S., Field, J. (2001), “Sexual
behaviour in Britain: Partnerships, Practices, and HIV risk behaviours”,
The Lancet, 358: 1835-1842 for a discussion of falling rates of
marriage from 1990 to 2000.

15

Kakabadse, A., Kakabadse, N. (2004) Intimacy: International Survey
of the Sex Lives of People at Work, Palgrave.

16

Pease, A., Pease, B. (2004), The Definitive Book of Body Language,
Orion.

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17

Allen, R. (ed) (1993) Oxford Concise Dictionary, BCA, p. 1093.

18

Lowndes, N. (2002) How To Make Anyone Fall In Love With You,
Element. Vitalio, D. (2005) Seduction Science,
www.seductionscience.com.

19

Based on Vitalio, D. (2005) Be Your Woman’s Hero, not Wuss: Part 1,
internet newsletter 21st April 2005.

20

Special section “How to Attract Men Like Crazy,” Cosmopolitan,
February 1989, article titled “How to Make an Impact on a Man”, p.

177. For an extensive discussion of the messages communicated to
men about women’s values in women’s magazine, see Farrell, W.
(1986) Why Men Are The Way They Are, Bantam Books, Chapter 2
(“What Women Want: The Message the Man Hears”), pp. 24-90. In a
wide-ranging discussion of hidden media messages, often focussed on
advertising, Farrell illustrates that even in magazines that make claims
to be written for ‘working’ women such as Ms., the majority of adverts
are for beauty products (e.g. the ironic “face up to your new
responsibilities…beautifully” advertising a new range of cosmetics) or
expensive gifts for women that men are expected to buy (e.g. “is two
months’ salary too much to spend for something that lasts a lifetime”
accompanying a picture of a man giving a woman a diamond ring).
In magazines such as Working Woman there were sometimes no
articles on work. Farrell comments “I assumed Ms. would feature
other gifts women could give to men….[but] not one full-page ad for
one gift a woman could give a man appeared in any Ms. Magazine for
all nineteen issues – including two Christmas issues.”, p. 27.
21

Aronson, E. (2003) The Social Animal, Ninth Edition, New York: Worth
Publishers, Chapter 8.

22

Berne, E. (1963) Games People Play, Penguin. See Chapter 9 for a
description of sexual games, including those involving deliberate
seduction with malicious intent.

23

Molloy, J. (2003) Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others,
Element, pp. 36-38.

24

Allen, R. (ed) (1993) Oxford Concise Dictionary, BCA, p. 622. All
discussion here is based on definitions in this particular dictionary.

25

See Dalton, M. (1959) Men Who Manage, John Wiley & Sons, Chapter
11. Melvin Dalton’s “Appendix on Methods” discusses the way that he

Fun, Friendship and Flirting

83

develops his network of “intimates” in his classic study about
management processes.
26

Willmott, H. (1993), “Strength is ignorance; slavery is freedom:
managing culture in modern organisations”, Journal of Management
Studies, 30(4): 515-552.

27

Peters, T., Waterman, R. H. (1982) In Search of Excellence, Profile
Books, p. 60.

28

ibid, p. 238.

29

Whyte, W. F., Whyte, K. K. (1991) Making Mondragon, New York: ILR
Press/Ithaca. Morrison, R. (1991) We Build the Road as We Travel,
New Society Publishers. In a non-cooperative context, John Collins
describes similar social organisation and results through the surplus
sharing arrangements at Nucor – one of 11 ‘great’ companies listed on
the US stock exchange.

30

Kasmir, S. (1996) The Myth of Mondragon, State University of New
York Press. Cheney, G. (1999) Values at Work, ILR Press/Cornell
University Press.

31

Petty, R., Cacciopo, J. (1986) “The elaboration likelihood model of
persuasion” in L. Berkowitz (ed), Advances in experimental social
psychology, Hillsdale: Erlbaum.

32

Aronson, E. (2003) The Social Animal, Ninth Edition, New York: Worth
Publishers.

33

Lowndes, L. (1996) How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You,
London: Element.

34

Over 15 years I have seen this repeatedly from both sides. As a
consultant, I helped organisations purchase new software systems.
As a software supplier, if not a preferred supplier, we might decline
the tender (if busy) or submit a tender (if trade was slow).
Supply/demand, as well as the reputation of the other party,
determines the attitude of the supplier to the customer as much as
the process adopted for procurement. Similar dynamics work in
recruitment.

35

Duberley, E. (2005), Brief Encounters: A Woman’s Guide to Casual
Sex, Fusion Press, p. 135.

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

36

This claim is rooted in a trade unionist perspective that staff were
firstly exploited when the surplus value of their labour was retained
(as profits or reserves), then again by the proposals that would leave
staff with debts that would have to be paid back out of future surplus
value.

37

Mintel (2002) Selling To, and Profiting From, the Sophisticated
Consumer, UK – December 2002, Mintel International Group Ltd. One
section in the report reveals that more people now viewed men as the
underdogs in advertising. Another identifies viewer responses to
different levels of sexual suggestion.

38

“Blond Ambition: Leggy Lawyer Poses, Profits,” ABA Journal, Vol 82,
p. 12. For further details see Farrell, W. (2005) Why Men Earn More,
Amacom, Chapter 12.

39

Vitalio, D. (2005) Recognising When You Are Pussy-Whipped, Internet
newsletter, 12th April, 2005.

40

The person had a learning disability, but was a member of the
business unit that had produced the best financial results, and lowest
wastage, in the company. As a consequence, his work colleagues felt
he should be made a permanent member of staff. Diane and John,
however, overruled them and he left the company, along with one
person who felt so strongly that they publicly criticised the directors
for the decision.

41

Internal company document on management culture and philosophy,
published and copyrighted in 2000.

42

Ridley-Duff R. J. (2005) Communitarian Perspectives on
Communitarian Governance, Sheffield Hallam University, Chapter 5.

Compared to industry norms and taking into account the qualifications
and investment in CIPD trained human resources staff, the level of
staff turnover was thought to be at least twice as high, and perhaps
as much as 4 times as high as might normally be expected in a
comparable company.

Chapter 4 - Control and Discipline
Overview
Children are great teachers, if you listen to them. When I am
tired and stressed, I am a useless parent. If my younger
daughter, Bethany, marches into the living room and accuses her
older sister of hitting her, I will call Natasha into the room, shout
at her and send her to her room. Later, I will go to see her,
explain that I was tired and stressed, and listen to what she has
to say. If she’s not too angry with me, she’ll tell me and we’ll
reach understanding. If not, I just have to live with doing her
another injustice.
But when I am not tired and stressed, we deal with Bethany’s
accusations in a completely different way. I call Natasha into the
room and ask her to tell Bethany why she hit her. It usually goes
something like this:
Natasha:

“You bit me!”

Bethany:

(Looking sheepish at first, but then defiantly).
But that was because you called me stupid!

Daddy:

Is that true, Natasha?

Natasha:

Yes – but she is stupid.

Daddy:

I told you to never call her stupid. Why is she
stupid this time?

Natasha:

Because she is.

Daddy:

(Exasperated) Bethany, why does Natasha
think you are stupid?

Bethany:

I’m not stupid – she’s just calling me that
because she thinks I laughed at her drawing.

Natasha:

(Talking to Bethany). That’s right - you
laughed at my drawing! You made me feel
stupid.

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Bethany:

I didn’t laugh at your drawing. I laughed at
your face!

Natasha:

And, then you called me stupid.

Daddy:

Bethany, did you call her stupid?

Bethany:

(Silence)

Daddy:

Bethany?

Natasha:

See! She’s always telling lies about me.

Bethany:

I do not – you’re always bullying me.

Natasha:

That’s because you are stupid.

Daddy:

(Hands in air) Natasha! Stop that.

Natasha:

See – you’re always taking her side!

Daddy:

That’s not true.

Natasha:

But you do. You always do.

Bethany:

No he doesn’t!

Daddy:

Is that what this is about? You think I am
taking her side?

Natasha:

(Silence)

Bethany:

He doesn’t Tash. He sends me to my room
sometimes too.

Natasha:

(Moody silence).

Daddy:

I’ve got one thing to say to you both.

Both:

(Silence)

Daddy:

(After a pause, and in a thick Yorkshire
accent). I don’t like gravy….

Both:

(Laughing)

Daddy:

Come here….

(Hugs both children).
The reason little people (kids) are great teachers is that they
are pretty useless at hiding their emotions - unless they have
already suffered emotional trauma. They show how they feel and
this makes it easier in a dispute to read what is going on. Adults,

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on the other hand, are practiced at “dramaturgical performances”
– a phrase coined by Erving Goffman to describe the acting
abilities of big people.1 A more recent phrase that is easier to
understand is “deep acting”. Adults have had years more
experience practising how to conceal their emotions (and had
more time to grow afraid of expressing them).
Their
performances are much more convincing than a child’s but are
not perfect enough to fool all people all of the time.
Another reason kids are great teachers is that they stay
emotionally engaged with the person they are arguing with (at
least in my house they do) and do not go off in a huff and refuse
to speak to the other person. Adults, I find, withdraw quickly or
go silent if someone questions their integrity or values. That
makes it much harder to have a conversation like the one above
and to trace what triggered feelings of hurt or rejection.
Another way to look at this, however, is to consider the level
of intimacy. We have intimate relationships with other family
members, and this makes it easier to argue. With people we
know less well, it is not possible to argue in the same way (at
least, not until an intimate relationship has developed) so the
style of disagreeing has to be more diplomatic and subtle.
We are often told that not behaving like children is a mark of
maturity and “being civilised” but I want to suggest to you that
the reverse is closer to the truth. Think back to the opening
quote in Chapter 1 of this book: “the meetings would get so
violent that people almost went across the table at each
other…People yelled…they waved their arms around and pounded
on tables…faces would get red and veins bulged out.”
This was a description of the behaviour of top executives and
technicians in one of the most ‘successful’ companies of their
In
generation resolving differences over business plans.
Chapter 3, we examined the view that “excellent” companies
allowed for, and took advantage of, the most evolved part of our
capabilities, namely “the emotional … side (good and bad) of
human nature”. Good and bad! Or perhaps, calm and excited,
quiet and loud, passive and assertive, reflective and activated.
What these executives have in common with my children is
two things:
• They are not frightened of their own emotions
• They are not frightened of other people’s emotions

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Both are signs of emotional maturity.
Natasha, our first child, was the first of her generation. For
two years she was the centre of attention from parents,
grandparents, aunts and uncles, and family friends. Then others
in our family had children. Four years later we had our second
child, Bethany. The day her younger sister came home from
hospital, Natasha told us at the end of the day: “you can take her
back now!” We sat down to explain that Bethany would be
staying with us, and that the nurses at the hospital were only
there to help with the birth.
Gradually, Natasha got less and less attention as the younger
ones got more and more. While growing up helped, there are
still times when she feels vulnerable because she does not get all
the attention she used to have.
Sometimes, instead of
complaining to dad (Rory) or mum (Caroline) she takes her
frustrations out on her younger sister. In her more secure
moments, she admits this is because it is easier than getting
angry with a grown up.
But Bethany, I found, is already a smart cookie herself. It was
only when we were old enough to track back events that I
realised just how selective Bethany is in truth telling. She does
not lie so much as only tell part of the story. To her credit she is
an honest soul – if challenged she admits the other side of a
story. In our quieter moments, she tells me that the reason she
does this is to compensate for being the youngest and smallest.
In her words, “I can’t ever win”. Make a note of this – she is
economical with the truth because others are all stronger and she
can never win a physical fight. She can, however, sometimes win
the verbal fights. If she catches us when we are tired or
stressed, she can sometimes control her older/bigger sister.
The technique we use to resolve arguments owes a debt to
Staying OK2 by Amy and Tom Harris, sequel to the bestseller I’m
OK - You’re OK3. It is a technique called ‘trackdown’ where you
go back over the events that have fuelled an argument until you
spot how it started. That way, you can deal with the root cause
– emotional hurt caused by perceived exclusion - rather than
superficial behaviour that constitutes a reaction to feeling hurt.
Adults, however, often refuse to engage in trackdown because
they want to hide the emotions and thoughts that drive their
behaviour. Sometimes, they may not even be aware of them
(which is the value of using trackdown as a diagnostic tool). With

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Natasha and Bethany – as with most people, whether young or
old - the root cause is almost always that one thinks another is
getting favourable treatment. This triggers one to attack the
other directly (hitting, shouting, verbally abusing) or indirectly
(telling tales). In the workplace, physical violence normally
results in an immediate sacking, verbally abusing could lead to
being disciplined, this leaves tale telling as the principle way for
work colleagues to discipline and control each other.
Now here is why children are as emotionally mature as the
executives in the opening quotation. They find ways to express,
then process, strong emotions while remaining emotionally close
to the people with whom they are in dispute. During a decade or
so of school, however, children are socialised to repress strong
emotions and work in silence to make it easier for teachers to
control them. The workplace has no need of such tight controls
because workers are not in a one-way learning environment with
a 30:1 ratio between teacher and learner. This makes school-like
disciplines particularly ineffective. A much better approach is to
bend and flex so that expressions of emotion are not only
permitted, but point the way toward mutual understanding and
the pleasures of making up after an argument.
This is not a recipe for mayhem – I am not suggesting that
people allow others to “get away” with being abusive, rather that
we understand abusive behaviour as a product or reaction to
earlier (and perhaps more subtle) attempts at social exclusion. A
practical approach is emotional mirroring – the same technique,
but extended to disputes, that body language experts call rapport
building.4 If someone starts to raise their voice, raise yours until
they stop raising theirs, then stop raising yours. If someone
starts to take the moral high ground, respond with moral
arguments of your own until they drop their approach, then drop
yours. The aim – as with seduction – is equity and reciprocity.
Yes – I know that this is all easier said than done, and that those
with good verbal skills will have an unfair advantage!

Why Control and Discipline?
I have heard a variation on the “sometimes you have to discipline
someone….” argument so many times that, frankly, I’m rather
tired of hearing it. Yes, sometimes we have to act on our own

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feelings and intervene into a situation where we feel an injustice
is taking place, but this is not necessarily the same as disciplining
someone. At the same time, it is unwise to intervene until we
understand our own motives for intervening. Often we intervene
more for ourselves than others.
When this happens, we can make the situation worse rather
than better. One benefit of studying the workplace as an
anthropologist (rather than, for example, as an experimental
psychologist), is that you can use ‘trackdown’ to unravel conflicts
that do not seem to make any sense. You also get to see both
sides of a situation more of the time.
In this chapter, I tell two stories where trackdown was applied
during an anthropological study. The first shows the social
tensions that led up to an incident in which Brenda disciplined
Ben. In doing this, we start to unravel a second source of
tension that stemmed from the disciplining of other workers. The
two sets of tensions are linked in a most unusual way and
through the telling of these stories the dynamics of social control
and discipline are exposed.
Let me first, however, put a proposition to you. Based on the
last chapter, I contend there are four contexts that fuel attempts
to control and discipline others:
1. When a relationship is so intimate we are sure an
argument will not do long-term damage to the relationship.
2. When we feel there is no viable option to exit the
relationship (i.e. the relationship will continue whatever we
say or do).
3. When we have no interest (or lose interest) in developing
an intimate relationship.
4. When we discover that another has no interest in pursuing
a more intimate relationship.
Contexts 1 and 2 are closely related, although the situations in
which they occur might be quite different. They are similar
because the expectation is that the relationship will continue
whatever our behaviour. The result is that we have to accept all
the emotions of the other party (both good and bad), and allow
for them. Contexts 3 and 4 are also closely related because they
are the flip side of each other.

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Context 1 could be a marriage or other committed
relationship. Context 2 could be a relationship between prisoners
and prison guards, or prisoners of war and the soldiers guarding
them. Context 3 might be work colleagues where one party
discovers that the other party will not (or cannot) develop an
intimate relationship, or where one party wishes to stop an
intimate relationship developing.
Diagrammatically, this can be represented as shown in
Figure 3:
Figure 3 – Attitudes, Emotions and Social Goals

Attitude

Emotion

Goal

Desire to discipline

No desire to
discipline or control

Committed to
decreasing
intimacy

Undecided,
unconcerned, or happy
with the current level of
intimacy

Less Close
Relationship

Stable
Relationship

Desire to control

Committed to
increasing
intimacy

Closer
Relationship

In between two extremes (decreasing intimacy – increasing
intimacy) are relationships where parties are undecided about the
level of intimacy they desire. They may not yet know enough
about the other party to make a firm decision about the future of
the relationship, or have become undecided because something
has triggered emotional hurt.
Caroline and I had a period of few years back when we grew
closer to people at work. As this happened, we started to move
across all three parts of the diagram at home and our feelings for
each other became volatile. As we were drawn into emotional
relationships with others, we experienced a range of reactions at
home. As workplace relationships became volatile, we grew
closer at home. At other times, however, we started disciplining

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each other (avoiding intimacy) to make more time and space for
others.
The one left out in the cold, so to speak, sometimes felt
ignored and reacted by trying to increase intimacy again. This
manifests itself in attempts to regain ‘control’ over the
relationship. As we got used to each others’ new relationships,
however, the desire to discipline and control lessened and we
re-established a “stable relationship” that became incrementally
closer and closer again.
Think of your own relationships? Who do you find it easy to get
angry with? Why? Do you ever get angry with someone who is
not the source of your problem? Why can you not get angry with
the ‘correct’ person? Do you need the relationship? Can you end
it? Now think of someone who gets angry with you? Why are
they able to? How do you feel afterwards? Do you enjoy making
up or does it cause hours, days, or weeks of pain?
Social psychologists frequently draw attention to the finding that
people argue most with those they are (or have been) closest to.
If they can make-up after an argument, their relationships grow
stronger. If they can’t, their relationships weaken. Has this been
true in your case?

Threats to Equity and Reciprocity
Equity theory is rooted in the idea that we are always seeking to
arrange our lives so that all our social interactions with others are
equitable.5 This is by no means easy and is always subject to
change because the desires of others, and their behaviours, are
beyond our control. During periods we are undecided about
levels of intimacy (i.e. when relationships are forming and
developing, or we are unsure of our future commitment to
someone), then the relationship – at least from our own point of
view - is stable. Others, however, may feel differently if they
have made an emotional commitment to increase or decrease
their level of intimacy with us.
One advantage of the above model is that it reveals the
hypocrisy behind many attempts at “moral” behaviour. Our
behaviour is only genuinely moral if we are in “stable

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relationship” situations with all the other parties, or are
self-aware of the outcomes we are seeking. This does not mean
there has to be no economic or emotional relationship, only that
we are unconcerned (or self-aware) of the likely impacts of any
intervention we make.
If we are not self-aware, then the desire to seek a less close
relationship (because we have been hurt) or a closer relationship
(because we are dependant) means that any moral positions
adopted to discipline or control the other are usually hypocritical.
This is a particularly difficult problem in disputes involving senior
people at work who have a large emotional and financial
investment in protecting their own position. It is also problematic
where one party is extremely emotionally or financially dependant
on another.
To explore this issue, come with me on another journey into
the lives of Brenda, Ben, Diane, Harry, John and Irene6.

Stories of Discipline and Control
Brenda is in her late thirties. She was once married, but realised
that she had been too young and married for the wrong reasons.
She divorced quickly, then took advantage of an opportunity to
travel. Her intellectual and emotional resilience is shown by her
reaction to being arrested in Eastern Europe with three friends.
She called the British Embassy who advised her that they may
have broken a local law, or may have been detained simply to
extort money. Brenda, sure they were being detained for the
latter reason, plucked up the courage to ask the police “how
much?” After some negotiations, they paid the police off and
were allowed to leave the country.
Committed to her career, Brenda joined the company after
forming a personal friendship with John. She has no boyfriend or
children, but regularly visits family and friends at weekends.
Others in the company – particularly women – say behind her
back that she should “get a life”, but Brenda says she is content
to develop her career. Her friends point out that she likes to
“party hard” when she gets the chance.

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Ben, slightly younger, has struggled with medical problems
during his early life. Often in hospital, he found adjusting to
“normal” life difficult and was bullied until adulthood, when – in
his own words – he became a “bad boy”. At university, Ben
discovered his intellectual gifts, and also his ability to develop
close (and sometimes sexual) relationships with women. His
willingness to listen added to his attractiveness, but also created
complications in the way he handled friendships. This put severe
strain on a six-year ‘steady’ relationship with his girlfriend. After
a period of sickness, he returned to
work enthusiastic and committed.
Erving Goffman’s work in the early
While he says he deserves his
1960s is a landmark in
reputation as a womaniser, I
understanding how and why people
detected another side in which he
say different things in different
talked about his desire for a stable
contexts. His work on how people
committed relationship with one
present themselves, almost as if they
woman.
were acting a variety of roles,
Diane is a twice married mother
reveals the care and attention to
of two whose second marriage,
detail that both the “actor” and the
audience take into account in
while stable, is unexciting. Now in
deciding whether to believe
her forties, she has developed a
someone.
wide circle of female friends and is
well regarded by both men and
Paul Griseri in a much less well know
women at work for her sensitivity.
book, tackles the question of
ambiguity. He claims that most
Her sexual passion, however,
people do not know their own
sometimes surfaces on nights out.
values, let alone anyone else’s, hence
Her fondness for John is apparent the constant contradictions that
once she flirted all evening with
surface when we observe the same
him and played sexual jokes
people in different contexts. To a
(putting ice cubes down his
greater or lesser extent, we are all
trousers). She once admitted she
“economical with the truth”.
practiced her kissing skills with
Another way to consider this is that
female friends and enjoyed getting
we are all highly selective regarding
the information we give and
“frenchies” as birthday presents
withhold in order to protect
from men at work. Outside work,
ourselves.
she devotes herself completely to
her children.
Harry is in his early 40s, a successful entrepreneur who first
made money buying up end-of-line football shirts at rock bottom
prices. He would look for a top team changing their strip, then
fly to America to sell at a 1000% mark-up. Harry wants to build
robust communities through business (“I’ve never done anything

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just for the money”), but at other times admits he is financially
driven (“I won’t do anything that does not improve the bottom
line”). A committed environmentalist, he is particularly good at
improving his own bottom line. Well loved by his staff, and
particularly by the women, his marriage is “deeply loving, but not
straightforward”. Separation was once discussed, but now is “not
an option” because he has two children. Comfortable in large
groups of people, Harry might be found at the centre of a knees
up.
In private, however, he is more guarded and is
uncomfortable with intimacy (a word he equates with ‘sex’).
John, in his late 30s, is a private figure, both feared and liked
in equal measure. Something of an academic, he is extremely
laid-back and relaxed about life, takes on challenges that other
people avoid, and is driven continually to learn new things. He
has three other jobs besides his directorship: firstly, relationship
counselling; secondly acting as a mentor to business executives;
thirdly, as an examiner. After a series of infidelities, he has one
marriage behind him, but remains on good terms with his ex-wife
and children. He likes running, but after injuries he started
taking regular visits to a therapist with whom he later started a
romance.
Irene is a large woman who has worked at the company for
seven years. In her own words, she “tries to do the best job
possible” but her peers tease her because of her size and
appearance.
Managers receive complaints from her work
colleagues and she has a reputation amongst senior staff for
being “difficult and inflexible”.
Intellectually bright and
hardworking, she remains enthusiastic about her job tasks and is
particularly kind to newcomers. When I first joined – without
asking – she went through her work files to find old newsletters.
Others reported that she helps new starters with the questions
others won’t answer, such as the location of the toilets,
cloakrooms, showers, mugs etc.
Why?
Because she still
remembers how daunting it was on her first day. More recently,
however, she has been treated for depression and been off work.
Her return creates problems when she tries to talk about past
disputes. Eventually managers decide she must “move on” or
leave the company.

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Hearing the Characters Speak for Themselves
In Chapter 3, we heard Ben talk about his relationship with
Hayley. We got to know John through his correspondence with
me. Let us now hear the others speak for themselves:
Harry says that Brenda “dotted and crossed Is and Ts” all the
time. We can see this side of Brenda’s character in the way she
talks about a company day out.
It was no small feat arranging a day out of this magnitude, but
we did it and we did it in style. From coaches, aeroplanes,
water taxis and gondolas: no modes of transport were missed;
no passports/tickets/passengers lost; not even anyone held up
at customs (although there were a few near misses just to add
to the excitement of the day!)….A massive wave of
appreciation has to go out to the main organiser of this
tumultuous event – Diane.
Brenda claims commitments to the ‘community’ ideals of the
organisation, but both John and Ben noted her opposition to
principles of democracy, and a liking for hierarchy. In private
emails she displays this side of her character by circulating
humour about employees:
Re: New Employee Rules!!
Something to think about for new statement of employment for
04 or any future employee questionnaires?!
----- Forwarded Message -----SICK DAYS
We will no longer accept a doctor's sick note as proof of
sickness. If you are able to get to the doctors, you are able to
come into work.
SURGERY
Operations are now banned. As long as you are an employee
here, you need all your organs. To have something removed
constitutes a breach of employment.
BEREAVEMENT LEAVE
This is no excuse for missing work. There is nothing you can
do for dead friends or relatives. Every effort should be made to
have non-employees to attend to the arrangements…

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97

ABSENT FOR YOUR OWN DEATH
This will be accepted as an excuse. However, we require at
least two weeks notice, as it is your duty to train your own
replacement.
DRESS CODE
It is advised that you come to work dressed according to your
salary. If we see you wearing fancy trainers or clothing we will
assume that you are doing well financially and therefore do not
need a pay rise.
We are here to provide a positive employment experience.
Therefore, all questions, comments, concerns, complaints…
accusations, or input should be directed elsewhere.
HAVE A NICE DAY - The Management
Brenda called Harry the company’s “idealist” and John the
“pragmatist”. We can see the idealist side of Harry’s character in
the way he talks about the day out organised by Diane:
I had this surreal dream. Instead of travelling to work I dreamt
that I got on an aeroplane full of really good people (although I
seemed to make some of them cry) and we flew off to this
sun-drenched island with liquid streets and beautiful buildings.
We travelled around on these really long boats with curly ends
and very handsome men (so the girls said) serenading us
whilst they poked long sticks into the water. None of them
caught any fish though. Even the pigeons were amazing.
They filled the streets and the skies but never once did they
s**t on anyone’s head.
Harry’s inhibitions (or sensitivity, depending on your
interpretation) is conveyed in the way he does not even spell out
the work ‘shit’ in the company newsletter.

Brenda and Ben on Each Other
Brenda and Ben had some ups and downs in their relationship.
In a work capacity, Ben found Brenda somewhat brusque.
I arranged to go in early to do some training for them, before
the managers and directors meeting. It didn’t work out like
that, however. I was fed up that I’d arranged to come in early
to do the training and I’d spent several hours preparing a quick

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guide to using the system. I’d asked for this meeting to ensure
I could go to our next department meeting and show some
progress, but the moment Harry put his face through the
window, she went out. She treated him ‘as the MD’ and was
in his power. He just had to say ‘come on’ and that was it.
We had arranged this meeting to give her training and timed it
so that she would still have a half-hour window to prepare for
her meeting with Harry. She didn’t even apologise.
Brenda sometimes found Ben’s manner difficult, and seemed
particularly concerned to stop him developing relationships with
women. Here is how she once communicated her feelings to him
regarding his relationship with Hayley.
I appreciate your response, but it does illustrate the difficulties
of separating personal and professional issues, which I can
fully appreciate was even less clear for you during that
time…..Surely this confirms how personal and professional
boundaries had been crossed in your role here?
At other times, however, Brenda is (over) friendly towards
Ben. In the following email, after Ben apologised for talking
about pay issues in the staff canteen, she comes across as
upbeat and informal:
It is incredibly challenging to be totally appropriate all of the
time in such an open arena. A deeper discussion on this topic
would evoke some 'interesting' thoughts I'm sure: I would be
more than happy to put it on the list, (of which I have already
subliminally created) to discuss! We just don't seem to make
time for more in-depth discussion on these quite significant
issues, so maybe we should diarise? At least we've managed
to arrange a 'social' before Hayley leaves. I have got a card
(for you to sign) and present (very pink and bubbly!!) It should
be an eventful evening and well overdue!
In private, Brenda advised Ben that he should “be prepared
for a lot of attention” at Hayley’s leaving party. What precisely
she meant by this was unclear to myself and Ben, but some
interesting dynamics between Ben, Brenda and Diane emerge at
the conclusion of Hayley’s leaving party. As Ben reports:
It was the small hours. We were going to go back to Brenda’s
to open a bottle of whiskey but Diane said she was too tired
and wanted to go home. The whole evening unfolded how I
like it......good meal, good company, lots of chat, and as the

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evening winds down round a table, everyone drunk, talking
about how you feel, talking to each other in ways that you
don’t talk in the workplace when you feel inhibited.
We had a coffee and talked on a much more personal level.
Diane said again that I have some “admirers”. I asked if she’d
tell me but she wouldn’t. She explained that this was part of
the way the Data Protection Act worked, that if she told me
and something happened that she could be personally liable. I
said that I wanted to have a period on my own but that I don’t
want to turn down the chance of any interesting friendships.
Shortly afterwards, in response to Brenda’s suggestion that
they have a ‘more in-depth discussion’ Ben invited Brenda to join
John and himself at the pub after work. As a consequence, a
new “complication” took shape.
Brenda. (Pause). The barriers have definitely come down ... I
have one or two worries about an email I sent. We have been
open and complimentary. I said that I found her very sharp
and thrive on the feedback she gives. She said that she was
“so pleased” that I had come back to the company…I can’t
generalise. I sent an email because we are building up a
clutch of things that it would be good to discuss outside work,
so I said that maybe it is the time to go down the pub with
John. But Brenda, the next day, seemed glowing with
excitement. I think she was flattered by my invitation. She
came in wearing a low-cut top and I think she’s trying to flirt
with me. She’s smiling much more at me. Staring at me. Oh
God!
When I reflect about things, about the way she was very
complimentary at Hayley’s leaving party, being very open, and
standing close up, I just.........(pause)....well, she has my
respect but I don’t fancy her. I hope that.....I hope....this might
sound crazy but this is affecting me because I don’t know how
to go into work now. It bothers me because I don’t want a
complicated relationship with my director.
The next time Brenda arranged a team meeting with Ben and
Diane, she suggested that they have a walk in the park, then a
meeting, then go out for a meal, then go back to her place for
drinks. Ben felt this sounded more like a date than a working
meeting and asked Brenda if they should open the evening to the

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whole department (about 20 people). Brenda reacted by saying
she wanted to “keep it small”.
Diane also took an interest in Ben’s situation. Below is her
reaction after Ben came into work upset:
That morning I went into work. Both Diane and Hayley could
see I was upset. Diane was very supporting and comforting.
She held my hand and gave me a hug. She gave me her
home number and said I could kip at their place if I needed to.
I’m not sure how we got onto the subject, but now my situation
is known, she asked me some questions about how I felt. I
said that I expected to have a period on my own - I’d been like
that before - and Diane said something similar to Hayley’s
comment that “I wouldn’t be lonely” (Pause…as if trying to
work something out)…. in fact she said that to me at the pub
the other week - but she fleshed it out a bit this time, which
was that people had been asking about me, about whether I
was married, or had children. I didn’t ask her any details at
that time, but I found it reassuring.
Later, however, Diane reacted strangely to Ben after he told
her that he was corresponding with someone on the Internet. As
Ben comments:
It made me think back over my own behaviour. I can’t
understand why she would say “look, you are not going to find
love here”. I liked people but did not generally make
comments to them or about them. It made me self-conscious
and I felt vulnerable. Another man has been sacked for
comments he’d made about women’s attractiveness and I’m
now worried that I’ve made a couple of comments in response
to Diane saying that I have admirers.
Ben took Diane up on this by email and asked whether his
domestic situation had been discussed with others.
Diane
responded:
My comment on your not finding love here was because I felt
you were making a conscious effort to seek out a relationship
and I was worried about the possibility of your privileged
access to files being used in an inappropriate way. When I
said that people were asking about you it was in a general
way, as people do when there is a new person around. A
small group of people, male female and a mixed age group,

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were curious to know more about you i.e. your age, marital
status and did you have any family. Can you forgive me?
Ben explained his feelings in the following terms.
…some people made me feel nervous and there were others
whose interest I liked. I wanted to choose my response from a
position of knowledge - that was all. …I think I was looking for
an intimate friendship, rather than a (sexual) relationship certainly I have always found most comfort talking to close
female friends… There was one person I particularly liked
(who I thought was showing interest in me) so I did drop a
private note to them but they did not respond and I did not feel
like pursuing it. I feel closer to you than anyone else at work you are my best friend – there is nothing to forgive. Would
you like a drink soon?
Upon discovering that Ben had invited another woman out for
a drink, Diane – apparently so concerned that it was “affecting
her performance” - showed Brenda the above email. The result
was a face-to-face meeting in which Brenda took Ben to task:
Brenda: I don’t want to be moral Ben but you were in a
committed relationship.
Ben:

I don’t understand, why is that relevant - I was
separating....

Brenda: You are asking someone out for a drink - don’t you
think you should have discussed this with someone
first?
Ben:

There was nothing to discuss!

Brenda: It is not that you asked her, it is the way that you did
it?
Ben:

But I also asked you, sent you an email and you did
not respond.

Brenda: But you sent her a note?
Ben:

But that was the only way I could contact her – she’s
not on email. Besides, I also sent a card to a man
asking him for a drink and followed it up several times
before he agreed.

Brenda: But that’s different!

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Ben did not think it was different – he liked both people and
asked them out in a similar way. After the meeting, Brenda’s
response was swift and firm:
I don't feel that there needs to be any further analysis. What is
required from you Ben, is an acknowledgement that
considering your role, you did over-step the mark
professionally and you recognise this for the future. We all
have to take responsibility for our actions and this is no
exception. Hopefully upon your acknowledgement, we can
draw a line under this, but if you feel that I am being in any
way unfair, then we shall discuss further how to progress this
serious matter.
Ben felt Brenda was being unfair and suggested Brenda’s
attitude was sexist. Brenda responded by threatening to raise
the matter with Harry if Ben did not accept his “error”. Ben then
responded as follows:
What is materially different from the invitation I sent to her and
the invitation I sent to you? Are you saying that because of
my role, that I cannot choose who I have drinks with? The
question that keeps going through my mind is why are you
making an issue of this? This incident, in particular, seems
fabricated to make an issue out of nothing. I don't like that.
The question ‘why’ is critical. Why did Brenda, in Harry’s
words, “want Ben’s head on a spike” simply for inviting someone
for a drink? The following conversation was reconstructed from
handwritten notes made by the woman who later became Ben’s
new girlfriend. It reveals that Ben was aware that Brenda may
have been feeling hurt.
Brenda: How are you?
Ben:

Not good, I’m afraid.

Brenda: Ben, I’d like to get Harry involved. Do you consent to
that?
Ben:

I would rather you explained your behaviour in an
email as I’ve done to you. Can you do it in writing?

Brenda: Well, I’d rather get Harry involved. Do you not want
that?
Ben:

I think it may not be in your interests Brenda, but if
you’d like to do that then I guess I would consent to it.

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Brenda: What do you mean that it may not be in my interests?
Ben:

I think I’d rather not elaborate.

Brenda: I don’t understand.
Ben:

I think I may have hurt your feelings and that this is
driving your behaviour.

With Ben’s consent, the issue was escalated to Harry who
proceeded to discipline both of them. He would not, however,
countenance Ben’s interpretation that Brenda was acting from
personal jealousy. As Harry wrote to Ben:
I question your assessment of Brenda’s motives in raising the
drink issue with you. You should recall from earlier
discussions around this topic that Brenda only raised the issue
with you following consultation with myself (after she had been
made aware via Diane). This fact does not fit at all
comfortably with your view of ‘a woman scorned bent on a
revenge mission’.
Harry, however, does not consider that he has been used just as Bethany sometimes uses me to discipline her sister - like a
parent. Brenda selectively fed Harry information so that he would
support the decision to discipline (or control) Ben’s behaviour.
Secondly, Brenda enlisted Harry’s support before she spoke to
Ben, or began her attempts to discipline him. Eventually, the
following outcome occurred:
Ben claims he was pulled to one side and told his behaviour
was “unprofessional”. He was asked not to date anyone in the
company. Ben said that this was unreasonable – that what he
did in his own time was his own business. He was then told
by Brenda that he would not go anywhere in the company if he
dated people – basically the message was "if you have
relationships with people here, you are not going to get
promoted."
This was a double-standard. Harry himself was married to a
woman with whom he had first conducted a workplace affair at
Custom Products. Later, he promoted her to company director.
It is this kind of hypocrisy that alienates workers.

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Feelings and Motives During Disciplining
I asked Ben to keep a diary during his dispute – one of the
reasons that such insights into his conflict with Brenda became
possible. Afterwards, Ben had to move to a different department
and had little contact with Brenda.
He felt – with some justification –
The propensity of people to construct
that the “truth” had been twisted
“truth” in the light of their current
to protect Diane and Brenda from
interests is a theme in both political
criticism.
theory and philosophy.
He wrote about his meeting
Habermas’s work has been widely
with Brenda in the following terms:
quoted in this respect. He argued
that each situation influences a
person’s ability to tell the truth –
that being in the presence of a
manager inhibits talking because of
the impact of authority.

My colleague Minna Leinonen,
however, who followed Habermas’s
guidelines during gender research
still found that people “painstakingly
avoided gender conflict” even in
groups where they did not know
others. Clearly “authority” is not the
only inhibitor.
Different social processes take place
in every context and people are – in
the words of Professor David
Megginson “always measuring the
distance between themselves and
others to determine what is sayable.”
Habermas’s work has been important
in drawing attention to the way that
a person’s interests affects the
perspective they adopt during a
discussion.

The attack was not physical; it was
psychological. The invasion into
my private life, forcing me to relive
and open up events that took place
when I separated from my girlfriend
(putting a new relationship at risk),
and making me account for my
sexual attitudes and behaviour
(over an after work drink
invitation?) felt like “psychological
rape”.
It is not just junior staff,
however, who are upset by
disputes. When Ben would not
accept his ‘error’, Harry also
started to get defensive about his
behaviour and accused Ben of
pursuing a ‘vendetta’:

How can you justify your claims?
Are you now dismissing the
process that we painstakingly went
through? Have you forgotten the
criticism made regarding Brenda’s
handling of the dispute? What
motivation would I have, to offer blind support to someone if
they were acting so blatantly against the best interests of the
organisation? If I took such a narrow perspective, how would I
maintain the levels of support within the company?

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How can you possibly justify circulating your flawed account in
the knowledge that it presents such an incomplete
interpretation of events? The only conclusion I can reach in
questioning your motives for taking this course of action is that
you were attempting to bolster your increasingly untenable
position in respect of your allegations against Brenda.
It may, of course, be that Harry’s account is ‘flawed’ and that
his interpretation is ‘untenable’. Let us consider this in a bit more
detail and consider the pressures on Harry.

Diane’s Motives
Diane – after the event – felt that Ben misinterpreted her
comments about “admirers”.
Ben’s account, however, was
recorded at the time Diane made her comments (many months
earlier). This raises the possibility that Diane had a good reason
for reconstructing her original comments. Certainly she has an
incentive to do so, because her position within the company
requires her to be extremely discrete. As she recognises herself
– indiscretion can lead to prosecution under the Data
Protection Act.
Her discretion regarding women’s comments towards Ben,
however, can be contrasted with her indiscretion regarding Ben’s
emails and the way she told other women about Ben’s personal
circumstances. The emails were sent in confidence but were
shown to the one person that Ben requested Diane should not
show them to - Brenda. This suggests that the Data Protection
Act is not the real reason Diane does not wish to divulge
information to Ben, and is being used by her as a ‘legitimate’
excuse to avoid talking.
There are several ways to interpret this. Firstly, Diane’s
dependence on Brenda (or wish to maintain friendship) is so
great that in this context the Data Protection Act is meaningless.
Alternatively, we can interpret her behaviour from the gendered
perspective that we are socialised to protect women7. She gives
personal information to women who ask about Ben so that they
can decide whether to approach him, but will not give Ben similar
information so that he can decide whether to approach them.
Why? Are the women in more ‘danger’ from Ben that Ben is from
the women? Lastly, there is a simple explanation. Diane was
enjoying Ben’s attention and did not want it to be diverted

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elsewhere. Her motivation may have been less to do with the
protection of other women than competition with them - to keep
Ben’s attention for herself while hiding her feelings.

Brenda’s Motives
Brenda constructs Ben’s behaviour as “unprofessional” because of
the sensitivity of his position and personal circumstances.
However, she attempts to arrange meetings with him that could
be constructed as “unprofessional” in their own right, then denies
to both Harry and Ben that she had motives of personal jealousy.
Ben’s dependence on Brenda made it difficult for him to speak
up, but when Harry finally heard a full version of Ben’s story, he
suggests that Ben was imagining things and calls his allegations
“untenable”. How likely is this?
Brenda’s decision to seek and divulge information exchanged
in confidence raises questions about her own morality and
motives. Later she asked for Ben’s consent, and he gave it, but
she had already consulted Harry beforehand. The incident shows
that managers do not always feel able to respect confidences.
The impression given to Ben by Diane, however, was that Brenda
sought the information even after Diane informed her that Ben
had requested confidentiality. Diane indicated that she did not
volunteer it willingly. This suggests that Brenda and Diane both
faced moral dilemmas. They had to decide who to be loyal to,
who to help, who to protect. How credible is Harry’s claim that
Brenda had “no choice” but to act on the information “given” to
her? Was she seeking to discipline Ben? If so, why?

Harry’s Motives
I offered Harry access to research data to corroborate Ben’s
account but Harry declined and chose to accept Brenda’s and
Diane’s verbal accounts. Why would Harry do this? Firstly, it is
possible that Ben’s account was so incongruous with Harry’s
beliefs about Brenda (and perhaps women in general) that he
could not bring himself to investigate properly. He had his own
ideal of what women should be, and could be. Maybe Ben’s
opinions created more emotional turmoil than Harry could
process. Could Harry cope with the idea that women can be
equally responsible for sexist and sexual behaviour in the
workplace?

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There are other ways to look at this, however. We can see
Harry’s behaviour as patriarchal. In all instances, even if he
criticises women, he still acts as if he believes their accounts and
disbelieves the men’s. He may believe that whatever the rights
and wrong, his priority is to protect the women. Ben, on account
of the company’s equal opportunity commitments, expected
relationships (and dispute resolution) to be based on equality of
responsibility and accountability. In raising issues, however, he
violated the social norm that “both sexes … protect the female”8.
This is – by all accounts – classic patriarchal behaviour. But is it
an expression of “male power”? I am sceptical.
This claim rests on an evaluative position that men’s interests
are being served.
Whose interests are served by Harry’s
dominant behaviour? It is questionable whether Harry’s or Ben’s
long-term interests are being served here. We can regard Harry
as serving Brenda’s interest at least as much as his own. The
speed with which Brenda escalated the conflict to Harry and
sought Harry’s support at the earliest opportunity are expressions
of matriarchal power. Once Harry has given his support, it is
difficult for him to withdraw it without damaging his relationship
with Brenda. Even as Harry criticises Brenda for her handling of
the situation, he does her bidding and fights her battle. This is at
her instigation not his: Harry’s “power” is co-opted by Brenda to
discipline Ben.

Ben’s Motives
Ben’s version of the truth can also be challenged. He acts to
protect his friendships and personal interests. Because he did not
place his loyalties to his departmental colleagues above all others,
they rejected him. His “truth” was driven by a desire to have
control over a much broader set of relationships. At the time of
the dispute, he wanted to retain the option to respond positively
if someone he liked gave him attention. Was his behaviour (as
Harry claims) part of a “crusade” or (as Ben claims) a “question
of principle”?
Ben’s account has fewer contradictions than others. Firstly –
unlike Brenda and Diane – he was willing to discuss what
happened. He knowingly acts against his own social and material
interests (particularly when short-term outcomes are considered)
and does not escalate the conflict with Brenda until she

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characterises his behaviour as a “serious matter”. Whether he is
seeking conflict or challenging a false allegation rests on whose
accounts are more believable. He admitted an attraction, and
enjoyment at flirting, but did he conceal a deeper intention?
Even if he did, does this justify Diane’s, Brenda’s and Harry’s
reaction? Why was it so important for them to intervene and
control Ben while at the same time protecting Diane?

Some Thoughts on the Conflict
During my school years, one of the English course set texts was
called Joseph Andrews. It was a bawdy comedy, and regularly
ridiculed social hypocrisy and the petty reasons for disciplining.
In one scene, a man is brought to court for ‘stealing’ a twig that
he allegedly broke off his landlord’s tree. Even though the court
decided that the twig was worth “less that sixpence”, the man is
found guilty and sentenced as a thief.
The reason that text made such an impression on me was the
way that completely unimportant and trivial misdemeanours get
escalated into huge dramas for the purposes of ‘putting someone
in their place’. The event on which the conflict between Ben and
Brenda turned is similar. Ben invited someone for a drink. No
actual drink took place. No-one complained about the drink
invitation. There was no ‘relationship’ taking place. Ben claims
he made the invitation for two reasons: firstly, a woman he found
interesting was showing interest in him; secondly, he did not
know why.
With hindsight, the basis of this dispute is
unimaginably petty, but an exploration the emotional purposes of
the conflict provides a better understanding.
What seems clear – particularly if we think of the tensions
between Ben and Brenda described earlier - is that Brenda’s
attitude changed towards Ben as a result of learning about the
drink invitation. Her desires changed and it became functional
for her to distance herself from Ben. Disciplining him (whether
consciously realised or not) reintroduces formality after she had
been repeatedly informal with him (i.e. flirting with him and
inviting him to walk in the park, and drink whiskey at her house).
During the process of disciplining, the demand is for one-way
intimacy, rather than two-way. The subordinate, Ben, is required
to be “open and honest” while Brenda is permitted to lie in order
to construct a truth that satisfies Harry. The “superior” learns
about the “subordinate” (to construct their own case) while the

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“subordinate” is not allowed the question the “superior”, or is
immediately criticised and censored for doing so. The truth gets
sacrificed to construct an account that is satisfactory to those
with decision-making power.
This example, if any were needed, illustrates how regimes that
rely on formal hierarchy (line management) and discipline are not
an adequate arrangement for a society with democratic
aspirations (or even economic ones!). In a democracy, the
process would work both ways – the motives of the accuser
would be subject to as much scrutiny by a peer group as the
motives of the accused. The goal of inquiry would be to generate
understanding (to bring about self-discipline) rather than to judge
‘guilt’.

The Impacts of Disciplining
Ben lost 9lbs (4kg) in five days during this dispute and got no
more than 2 hours of sleep per night until he had worked things
out in his head. In other disputes, involving women, similar loss
of weight was reported. A salesperson called Tanya claims she
lost over 1 stone in weight (6kg) after a dispute with John, and
that the anxiety lived with her “every day”. Only her fondness for
Harry, and financial dependency, induced her to stay.
The emotions reported by Ben were not unique. Below is a
selection of other comments:
The way they have gone about invading peoples’ minds is
disgraceful. Harry has reduced me to tears before and knows
how insecure I feel. He bollocked me for sharing my feelings
and now I shake before I go into meetings.
Tanya (saleswoman)
I know how I will be characterised - it started some time
back. I've already been told I'm "losing the plot", "emotionally
distraught" and that I "do not accept the 'errors' I've made". He
makes me feel like a naughty schoolchild if I try to say
anything.
Terry (former salesman)
On the face of it the workplace is excellent, but stress leads
people to be off sick. Work has been a factor in people going
off. I could not say it was the sole reason, or even the biggest
factor, but relationship problems arise because of work.

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Sometimes you have to work additional hours week-in weekout because you dare not say ‘no’. You have to choose
between work and relationships and that is detrimental to your
whole life.
Anonymous (the informant did not wish to be identified)
Harry will ask people if everything is alright, and in the back of
their minds they’ll be wanting to say no, but they’ll say ‘yes’ to
avoid getting bollocked by Brenda. If you raise any issues,
then the next thing you know Brenda will say ‘I want to see
you’. There is instant fear. I once got summoned to a police
station and I was afraid all day long. When Brenda says ‘I
want to see you’ it feels the same. There is an in-built fear.
Anonymous (the informant did not wish to be identified)
The impacts are different, however, when the recipient feels
criticism is justified. There are cases of Brenda disciplining Ben
where he felt she was right to do so, and this caused him no
stress at all. He gave quick and clear apologies in these
instances. What had such an impact on his emotions in this
instance was his perception that Brenda was making both a false
and hypocritical allegation.
Think of the last time you felt disciplined or controlled. Was
there a positive outcome? Did someone else calling you to
account eventually do you good? Did it reduce trust in the
relationship? If yes, why? If no, why? Do you feel that others
are entitled to question the way you do your work? Or do you
feel that such questioning is unhelpful? Does it increase or
decrease your respect for another?

Social Influence During Disputes
Emotional desires and commitments provide a compelling way of
understanding how disputes begin, develop and are concluded.
There are five types of relationships that impact on the course of
a dispute:
• formal networks (e.g. departmental colleagues)
• informal networks (i.e. friends inside/outside work)
• family networks (particularly spouses/partners)

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• relationships with leaders (i.e. line managers and human
resource staff)
• regulators (i.e. lawyers, unions, advisers, legal bodies etc.).
We choose our words carefully, even to our closest friends,
based on the impact and likelihood that they will be repeated to
people in other parts of a social network. When we have no
personal life to protect, we accord more importance to our
relationships with leaders and legal bodies (the enablers and
threats to achieving our social goals). But when we have
families, or a strong commitment to friends and colleagues at
work, these can become more important. The principle factor in
our behaviour is the route we take to maintain our emotional
health and self-image. We generally defend the relationships
that ensure our safety and sacrifice those we can do without.
Figure 4 – Relationships Influencing Dispute Process
Formal
Networks

Formal
Networks

Informal
Networks

Informal
Networks
S
O
C
I
A
L

S
O
C
I
A
L

Family
networks

Relations
with
Leaders

I
N
F
L
U
E
N
C
E
S

Legal
Regulation

Behaviours

I
N
F
L
U
E
N
C
E
S

Legal
Regulation

Family
networks

Relations
with
Leaders

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Figure 4 illustrates the pressures that can build during a
dispute. Different parties place different emphases on the value
of particular relationships. Leaders may place a higher priority on
acting within the law than preserving relationships with one or
more other parties. In the terms described in Figure 3 (at the
start of the chapter) this is an attempt to maintain a “stable
relationship” with people inside legal bodies, while developing
“less close” relationships with an employee (or group of
employees).
It is perverse that the law has the effect of breaking up or
undermining organisations, but this is the outcome when fear of
(or obedience to) law is given a higher priority than the
preservation of other relationships. As Diane’s story illustrates,
however, the law is sometimes used as a ruse (or excuse) to hide
feelings from others in order to protect our social position.

A Second Case
By looking at a second aspect of the relationship between Brenda
and Ben, I uncovered the long-term dynamics of disciplining and
sacking people.
Let us take a closer look at Irene’s situation in the company.
When Ben first talked about her, this was his description:
Irene is a most interesting figure. From the way she talks you
would think that the company values do not matter to her
much, but from the way she acts she is a model employee:
committed, friendly, highly flexible, loyal, enthusiastic,
conscientious and hard working. She is a loner within the
company - amongst existing employees - but likes to help new
starters feel at home.
Ben liked her. When I spoke to Brenda, however, she
revealed a problematic relationship with Irene:
To my surprise Brenda revealed that Irene refuses to attend
social events organised by the company. They attempted to
reach a compromise, but Irene apparently refused to do this.
Brenda had to deal with many issues - she felt that Irene was
choosing to exclude herself, rather than the company
excluding her. There were issues of competence and attitude
(John also said this in an earlier discussion) and Irene’s
colleagues had raised issues. Brenda said that in many ways,
Irene showed what was good about the company, but she had

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become so inflexible that there were now issues that were
difficult to resolve.
Earlier, we heard that Diane felt Irene was being
misrepresented at board meetings, so there is a divergence of
opinion regarding Irene’s behaviour. Let’s dig a little deeper.
What was going on in the company at this time? Who exactly
was trying to exclude who, and why?

Exploring the Company History
In 2003, Custom Products started to suffer profitability problems.
Staff turnover and sickness in one production unit was
particularly high, at around twice the national rate, and three to
four times as high as might be expected in comparable contexts.9
In response to this, Harry eventually decided that the situation
could not continue.
Around a year before, the company had disciplined and
sacked, Andrea, a production worker. She had responded by
setting up a rival company. Throughout 2002 and 2003, Andrea
had recruited people from inside Custom Products. Irene was
one of the staff in regular touch with her.
In the summer of 2003, Irene was injured at work and had to
go to hospital. Although her injuries did not require a hospital
stay, she made a claim against the company for injury. Brenda
handled the claim and told me about their meeting afterwards:
Brenda said that Irene had told her work colleagues that her
job was under threat if she did not behave. Brenda was
meeting everyone to reassure them that Irene’s job was never
in question - that it had not been threatened. Harry also
attended the meeting.
Brenda insisted this was to avoid misinformation getting out.
In private, however, Brenda started saying to me that Irene
“has a history”. I remember Venice where all Irene’s friends
constantly looked out for her. Knowing Irene and her
colleagues, I find it inconceivable that Irene would have made
up this claim, but she might have had support or
encouragement from colleagues inside or outside the
company.

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I disliked - both at the time, and now - the attempt to
assassinate Irene’s character. It was undignified and
unnecessary and reflected worse on Brenda than on Irene.
I was present at a discussion where Harry and Brenda
discussed Irene’s case. Brenda was more ‘gung ho’ that Harry,
but even so Harry expressed the view that “employees have to
understand the consequences of continued bad behaviour”. He
considered that bringing a claim against the company for injury
was disloyalty and “not the way we do things around here”.
Harry was more forthcoming about the ‘history’ behind the
current tensions:
He talked about the smokers as a “hot-bed of discontent”. I’ve
never seen much evidence of this but it may be that I’m not in
a position to say. Harry openly admitted that the most
time-consuming items at management meetings were
discussions inside the smokers’ group (only one out of sixteen
managers was a smoker).
Harry talked about moving the eating tables because this
would break up the group and split smokers from others. I
have to say this was active social control - trying to control the
way people meet in groups. I don’t doubt that he thought he
was acting to ‘defend the culture’ but this is the kind of social
control practised in totalitarian regimes, and goes against the
‘freedom of association’ principle of democratic cultures.
The whole management group appear to fear what the
smokers are saying. Harry kept talking about taking them on
to “protect the culture” and to prevent the culture “going to the
dogs”, but it appeared to me as “politicking” and unnecessarily
oppressive.
In a democratic society, such freedoms are legally protected
but Harry’s view was that Irene had got in with a “bad crowd”
and was being influenced by people who knew Andrea. This was
part of the argument to justify rearranging tables so that smokers
could not talk to others at lunch time. Officially, this was done as
a ‘health and safety’ measure.
Shortly after her meeting with Brenda, Irene went off sick and
was signed off by her doctor for several months. I talked to
Diane about the issues behind her sickness:
Diane said that Irene was off sick for "personal issues".
Irene’s department was being restructed at the time. Diane

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also commented that the 'grapevine was incredible', that Irene
would call Harry about things going on that had been reported
through the grapevine.
Irene asked if John would go to see her. Brenda advised him
against it. Diane later did a welfare visit - then Irene came out
with a load of stuff accusing John. Irene then had a meeting
with Brenda and Diane and did a similar thing in that she
accused Brenda of lots of stuff.
Irene is raising issues that happened some time back at work
as a result of her seeing a psychologist. Things happened but
Irene did not raise them at the time - then as a result of talking
with her psychologist she comes into work saying I want to talk
to X about what happened a few years ago.
Although Diane characterised Irene’s absence as due to
personal issues, it seems clear from these comments that
workplace issues were highly significant to Irene. Irene was
trying to raise matters that were problematic to her, and was
actively keeping in touch with work colleagues about events that
would affect her future position at work. The network of friends
proactively kept her up to date.
As I dug deeper, I found that Andrea’s new company, as well
as other competitors, were successfully competing with Custom
Products for business. Harry decided that the department was
not viable in its current state and announced that numbers had to
be reduced from 20 to 8. In the later period of discussion, Irene
was back at work and able to participate. During one meeting, I
gave an opinion as to how they might evaluate performance
fairly:
Diane agreed it was a good idea and encouraged me to
contribute it. Harry saw us chatting so I asked everyone if
they felt they were able to choose the best team. Immediately
one or two people in the group started nodding and supporting
that. Irene said “I can think of 8 people and I’m not one of
them”. She put herself down, she was nevertheless behind
the idea.
The criteria for downsizing was set on the basis of sickness
record, length of service, performance and whether full-time or
part-time. Based on these criteria, Irene was amongst the group
of people selected to remain in the department and this made
Brenda and Diane unhappy. They asked Ben to manipulate the

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performance and sickness data to see whether Irene could be
excluded. As Ben reports:
Diane wondered how to account for the performance ranking –
whether we should use the order they were listed as a kind of
preference order. Harry thought we could not assume this so I
did it both ways. It did affect the result a bit, but not much.
We assessed sickness differently taking account of the % of
time taken off. We looked at different ways of interpreting the
data. Diane said “if I take this list to the rest of the group they
would think it is totally unfair”. So we quantified it differently. I
think it was fairer, but it also meant people gained a few marks
relative to Irene.
I did something similar with sickness. However we did it, Irene
stayed in the top eight. Diane and Brenda had their own
agenda for who they wanted in there, and they were trying to
get the data to match their wishes. Harry, however, told me
that he insisted they use the scoring system described to the
group.
In other words, Diane and Brenda were trying to manipulate
the results of their own selection process to justify excluding
Irene, but could not do so. They then proceeded to use the
comment that Irene had made in the meeting against her. Irene
was asked to voluntarily leave the department based on her selfevaluation. As Ben continues:
Diane discussed this with me on Monday - she was asked to
put across to Irene that she herself said she was not a good
production worker. Irene was so pleased, however, that she
had been selected to stay in the team that Diane got frustrated
by her enthusiasm. It must have been Brenda who asked
Diane to leave the department. I can’t see who else it could
be.
It could have been someone else. As the dispute with Ben
and Brenda shows, Brenda often escalated matters to Harry to
reassure herself that she would have his support for a course of
action. Ben reports that Diane “was asked to put across to Irene”
a particular view. Brenda was Diane’s manager, so the putting of
this view was either at Brenda’s or Harry’s instigation, probably
with Harry’s support.
At the next group meeting, it was reported that Irene was off
sick again. This time she was telling friends that she would not

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be returning to work. Brenda wanted to fire her straightaway for
breach of contract, but Harry felt this was too abrupt (and they
had no concrete evidence). Instead, he asked that Irene be
examined by a company doctor. If she was passed fit but
refused to return, then there would be no come back if they
sacked her. Irene came back to work.
What emerges from this analysis is something akin to a game
of cat and mouse with managers looking to catch the employee in
a breach of contract that makes their position untenable.
Eventually, managers opted for one aspect of Irene’s working
life over which she would not compromise – non-attendance at
two ‘compulsory’ social events. In previous years, Irene booked
holidays to cover these days. When this option was removed,
she would call in sick on the day. Eventually, she had to admit
she did not wish to attend. Based on Diane’s observations, it
appears John took the lead in the directors’ meeting to convince
colleagues that this should not be allowed. Irene’s personnel
record says that she ‘resigned due to a culture mismatch’ (an
interesting euphemism for what other people regarded as ‘getting
the sack’).
In September 2003, the department from which Andrea was
sacked, reduced its number to eight staff. While I could not say
with certainty there was a direct connection, the disciplining and
sacking of Andrea, and the subsequent departure of workers for
Andrea’s company, combined with ongoing contact between
Andrea’s workers and those at Custom Products, all had an
impact.
In all, there were four workers marginalized and
encouraged out in a similar way during this period.10
Think of the last person excluded or sacked from your workplace.
Did you ‘see it coming’ or was it a complete shock? What were
the circumstances? Did their departure impact on you? In what
way and why?
Managers are often unaware, or do not take into account, how
sacking a person affects their work colleagues. Some may be
pleased, others grow more afraid. What is your experience?

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The Dynamics of Discipline and Control
As we learnt in Chapter 3, when relationships become more
intimate, plurality reigns as listening, learning and debate thrive.
Personal commitments deepen, emotions are positively affected,
positive character attributions are made. Self-images and views
of others improve, openness and honesty increases.
But when parties feel threatened – and all feel threatened
when their job competence or sexual behaviour comes under
scrutiny - other behaviours and outcomes are observable. People
feel threatened and withdraw. They become anxious and break
confidences. People become even more reticent about giving
information. They may lose weight or sleep. Accusations may be
made. Anger is triggered.
Cultures develop as a response to the way people defend their
relationships and resolve disputes. The first choice that two
parties have is whether to engage in dialogue. If they both
consent, then the path is set to reaching understanding.
Dialogue is not necessarily easy – further differences may emerge
– but so long as the commitment to understanding is retained,
the outcomes are likely to be:



Plurality, Shared Understanding, Value Congruence
Listening and Learning
Openness and Honesty
Increase in Intimacy

It is always possible, however, that one or other party will not
wish to debate contested issues. In this case, one or other party
resists while the other coerces (i.e. tries to have a debate). If the
resisting party returns to dialogue, the two parties can reach a
satisfactory outcome. Alternatively, the resistance may lead to
rejection of the other person’s argument (or the person
themselves). This can lead to confrontation and the possibility of
the following outcomes:




Blame, Physical or Psychological Withdrawal
Resignation (emotional or contractual)
Contract Termination
Caution and Dishonesty
Loss of Intimacy

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The process of dispute resolution, and the possible outcomes
are summarised in Figure 5.

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121

The character of a workplace culture, therefore, depends on
the conflict resolution processes adopted, particularly when
emotions are triggered by differences.
If the response is
co-operation to achieve shared understanding, the direction of
change is democratic – and will promote social cohesion. If the
response is coercion to impose the ‘right’ point of view, the
direction is towards confrontation, something that will lead to
oppression if unchecked by democratic accountability.
Between these two, however, are autocratic behaviours. It is
fashionable to criticise autocracy, but I would argue that this
behaviour is sometimes (temporarily) necessary to avoid reaching
consensus too quickly. Good decision-making thrives when
people can express (and have time to reflect on) different points
of view.
Providing this takes place within a framework of emotional
commitment, rather than to punish or socially exclude, the overall
direction of culture change remains democratic. Free speech has
an important role in this context. Sometimes, however, “free
speech” rights are selectively applied (i.e. those in power, or who
have influence, assume their right to determine who will, and will
not, be heard). In my view, whenever this occurs, it is morally
legitimate to challenge their authority.

An Alternative
Workplace cultures that are guided by the above realisation have
been developing for some time but require a different legal
framework and set of assumptions. At present, both employer
and employee are forced onto different sides of a fence.
Anything required under company law becomes the responsibility
of the employer (normally understood as the company directors,
shareholders and senior management). Anything required of
employees under the law becomes the responsibility of the
employee.
This creates the authoritarian relationship between employer
and employee, and the incentive for management control over
staff. Each law that requires the employer to enforce particular
behaviour on the part of the employee increases the authoritarian
nature of organisational life and reduces the scope for equitable
relationships. We saw this clearly in the relationship between
Diane and Ben when the Data Protection Laws prevented Diane

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from acting in a way that a friend might have done. We will see
the impacts even more acutely in Chapter 5, after Simon resigns
as a director and uses employment law to influence his codirector Andy.
As I say above, democracy does not thrive if people seek
consensus too quickly, or suppress differences in their interests.
Democracy thrives where multiple interests are exposed and
debate takes place to maximise satisfaction of them. A good
example of this is an international organisation that has evolved a
governance model precisely on this principle.

The Mondragon Cooperatives
The Mondragon co-operative complex has 67,000 members
organised into 190 businesses in 45 countries11. The leaders of
each business unit are elected to a governing council. Managers
are appointed by the council, and given powers to suspend staff
if they misbehave, but are themselves subject to control through
social councils (1 elected member per 10 employees), line
management and a governing council. Both the social council
and governing council, which each elect their own President, can
challenge the behaviour of senior managers by bringing matters
to monthly meetings with the company President and/or Chief
Executive.
The academic literature is mixed on the extent to which the
culture is genuinely democratic.
The presence of line
management relationships are taken by some as signs of an
authoritarian culture that represses dissent.12 Others, however,
note that the culture is autocratic with regards to work tasks, but
democratic with regard to social relationships.13 The most
sophisticated analysis illustrates how authority and accountability
are organised into ‘closed-loops’ rather than hierarchies.

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Figure 6 – Governance at Mondragon
General Assembly
Assembly
General
Elects

Reports

Governing Council
Governing
Council

Discusses

Joint Body
Joint
Body

Appoints

Operational
Departments

Advises

Managing
MDDirector

Reports

Consults

Social Council
Council
Social

Appoints
Nominates

Elects

Monitors

Directs

Executive
Executive

Reports

It is clear from all sources that the dynamics regarding social
control and discipline are different. Interestingly, at Mondragon
itself, the General Assembly (rather than senior management) is
placed at the top of diagrams depicting organisational
relationships. The above diagram is derived from materials
obtained during a field trip in 2003.
Culturally, more use is made of social pressure, critical debate
and ostracism. Less use is made of formal discipline, demotion
and exclusion. This dynamic is evident in transcripts of a meeting
between myself, Harry, John and Mikel (a tutor with 30 years
experience at the management training centre in Mondragon).
He was described by a local researcher as the only person who
actually visited all the co-operatives regularly (on the two-year
rolling programme).
In the extracts below, we discuss
governance practices in the co-operatives:
Mikel:

The social council gathers opinions. They give these
to the president or advise the Managing Director. If
one or other director takes the decision to punish you
or me, the social council can ask for the reason
because sometimes some boss or foreman may give
out too strong a punishment. Maybe they are acting
in a very authoritarian way. If that is the case
speaking to the social council is one way to address
this ….(pause)…the social council can ask for the
reason and maybe challenge the punishment…
(inaudible).

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Harry: Disciplinary and grievance?
Mikel:

Yes.

John:

But as mediators, I can see.

Rory:

Yes. It’s .. (pause).. policing the disciplinary and
grievance rather than doing it?

Mikel:

Yes, for punishment in general. If, for example, a
boss is very authoritarian the social council can say
“you are going to far”. This is the function of the social
council.14

The impact of this is noted in other studies of the same
organisation:
The culturally grounded tradition of discussion, debate, and
confrontation is still alive within both MCC and ULMA. In
marked contrast to my experiences as a researcher and
consultant in the U.S. organizations, I found nearly all
employees of the cooperatives to be quite open in voicing their
criticisms of their supervisors, managers, and elected officials;
there was clearly little or no fear of reprisal.15
The reason there is no fear of reprisal is that managers are
hired by elected representatives (governing council members) on
renewable 4 year contracts. Managers may or may not be
members (most are), and even if a manager loses their
management role, their membership of the organisation (i.e. their
employment) remains secure.
Once a worker is accepted as a member, they are – except in
the case of the most extreme breaches of trust – guaranteed
employment in the corporation. The result is that both managers
and workers feel more secure. The commitment to inclusion
surprised both Harry and John – both during and after the visit.
During one discussion Mikel described the punishment for a
worker who stole from the business. Harry and John were
adamant that this worker would be sacked in their own business,
but Mikel insisted that people were not sacked, even for stealing,
because their culture was based on cooperation, not
confrontation.
Mikel claimed that only once in his 30 years could he recall a
worker being sacked for stealing. In this case, members voted a
member out because they held a position of trust in the group’s
banking organisation. In other cases, they used temporary

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suspension. Permanent exclusion, at Mondragon, is regarded as
a management failure, not a failure of the worker.
In rounding off the discussion on exclusion, John reveals his
inability to move away from hierarchical thinking when he asks
who has ‘ultimate’ control.
John:

What happens if they don’t – I mean – accept it?
What happens if they don’t kind of agree? What is the
ultimate….

Mikel:

In our culture we have cooperation, not confrontation.
We have to discuss.

John:

Dialogue?

Mikel:

Yes

In short, no minority group has ‘ultimate’ power – that power
is vested in a General Assembly of all members, although
sub-groups (the governing council, social council and executive
group) wield considerable influence.
One key difference, therefore, between UK/US corporations
and the MCC is the way that all staff are formally subject to
controls by others staff from two or more directions, not one.
Harry wanted to understand the appointment process in more
detail:
Harry: Two questions. In reality, do the Governing Council
tend to be managers and department heads? And the
second question, how much do they change every
four years?
Mikel:

The President spends eight years, generally. Some of
them more than 12 years, others only 4 years. The
average is 8 years.

Harry: Who elects the president?
Mikel:

In most of the cases, the General Assembly chooses
the Governing Council. The Council members
choose the President. This happens in most cases.
But in a number of cooperatives, the General
Assembly chooses the President, the Vice-President
and the Secretary [directly]. This is not common.
That is, for example, the case at Fagor or at
Arizmendi, my own cooperative. In the Governing
Council they chose me - I don’t know why (laughter).

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The others, the members of the governing council –
most change every 4 years. As for department
directors, they could be members of the Governing
Council in most cases. In Fagor, the human
resources director is a member of the governing
council. But in most of the cooperatives there is only
one or maybe none [out of 7, 9 or 12 members].
In the other cooperatives, the industrial ones with 300
or 400 workers - in most of the cases there are 9
persons - maybe 3, 4 or 5 are blue collar workers; the
other 4, 5 or 6 are technicians. Some, maybe one or
two may be department directors. This is our history.
It is, in social control terms, important that the social councils
and governing councils are not dominated by department
directors for the reason that part of their function is to monitor
and control them. Department directors, in turn, monitor and
control the workers in their operational roles.

The Impacts of Mondragon’s Governance
System
This alternative way of achieving social control is all the more
interesting because the Mondragon Cooperatives are twice as
productive and profitable as the average Spanish firm, 57% of its
income comes from exports (i.e. it competes successfully in
global markets) and 10% - rather than the 1% norm in the UK –
is contributed to social and educational projects.
Furthermore, the governance and control mechanisms are
duplicated – in slightly modified form – in retail, education and
social organisations. While the UK has different governance
ideologies for companies and charities, this is not considered
necessary in the Mondragon Cooperatives. In educational and
social organisations, the stakeholders may be different but the
governance model is the same.
The wisdom that specialist management knowledge is
required to govern an organisation is turned on its head with
spectacular social and economic results. The governing council –
the equivalent of the board of directors in UK law – is typically
dominated by technical and manual workers with a minority of
department directors (usually only 1 or 2). Managers are
controlled both through top-down relationships – a department

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director or General Manager, as well as bottom-up relationships
with the social councils and general assembly.
Exclusion – in the manner described earlier in this chapter – is
unheard of and can be challenged in several forums, including
the general assembly.
The culture is argumentative and
confrontational, but strikes almost never occur (there has been
only 1 in 45 years across 190 businesses). In considering the
points made earlier, because there is no possibility of withdrawing
from a dispute (unless a person voluntarily resigns) or excluding
another without a hearing (they can appeal to their fellow
workers), levels of emotion are high and conflict is resolved
through discussion.
Conventional management wisdom would be that such a
distributed power structure, with no group in ‘ultimate’ control,
would be inefficient. Mondragon builds its model on the basis
that the ‘ultimate’ sovereign power is the collective (and not the
individual, as is the case in an entrepreneurial firm). Nor is an
elite executive group regarded as the ‘ultimate’ source of power
(comprised of the Chairman, Senior Independent Director and
Chief Executive Office)16. The economist Shann Turnbull identifies
the distributed power structures at Mondragon as a source of
efficiency because information is routed more quickly and reliably
to the relevant body.
Each body has different responsibilities (operational, strategic,
social) and this enables them to apply their time to the issues on
which they focus and only communicate over matters where
divergent interests need reconciliation. As a result, much less
information moves around the organisation with three benefits: it
saves time (and time is money); it improves the accuracy of
communications (less degradation); it improves the quality of
discussion and debate (because information is more reliable).17
In terms of emotion, the distributed power structure provides
more outlets for all members and prevents the build up of
explosive conflicts. No one individual or group can arbitrarily
impose its will on another. Members always have someone who
is empowered to act on their behalf with whom they can discuss
problems at work.
From a governance perspective, the arrangements overcome
the limitations of “bounded rationality”18. Each body has more
time to discuss issues within its remit. More intelligence and
more perspectives are applied than is possible with a unitary

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board. Moreover, the same issues are discussed from the
perspective of different interests (operational, owner, worker).
This promotes the satisfaction of all parties’ needs.
Have you ever belonged to a ‘democratic’ organisation? Was it
organised like the Mondragon co-operatives with several bodies
holding different powers? Did it feel democratic to you? Why?
Did you participate in decision-making? If not, why not?
Some studies have found that members in ‘democratic’
organisations sometimes feel their organisations are less
democratic than other organisations they belong to. Typically,
such organisations have a single centralised ‘council’ rather than
the decentralised structure at Mondragon.
What really makes an organisation democratic? Is it majority
voting? Is it being able – and unafraid - to speak out? Is it being
able to stop proposals that harm minority interests? Is it being
able to create proposals and have them discussed? Is it always
having someone who will listen to your point of view?

Summary
In this chapter I have suggested a number of things.
• The motive to discipline arises from an emotional need to
reduce intimacy.
• The motive to control arises from an emotional need to
maintain or increase intimacy.
• A stable relationship is one that is equitable with both
parties comfortable with the level of intimacy.
• Many disputes, rejections and withdrawals arise because
one party cannot process the emotions aroused by the
other party.
• Discipline and control, therefore, occurs in response to
emotional (rather than rational) needs.
• An authoritarian relationship – or social structure - is one
where only one party’s feelings are regarded as valid.

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• A democratic relationship – or social structure – is one
where all parties’ feelings are regarded as valid.
These suppositions find support from a particularly unusual
source. It is widely understood – even claimed by the National
Westminster Bank - that around 80% of organisations fail in the
first five years.19 What is less well known, however, is that of the
20% that survive, they are overwhelmingly run by people over
the age of 55!20
The 80% figure is misleading, however. Many businesses
close because the entrepreneur moves onto something they
consider is better, not because the business could not survive.
Amongst established businesses, the failure rate is only 6% per
annum – just 30% over a 5 year period.21
Even this failure rate is high by the standards in Mondragon.
It is a by-product of the way we encourage managers to manage
in our culture. The approach at Mondragon mitigates the effects
of managers who discipline and control for emotionally defensive
reasons. As self-employed workers, members cannot discipline
and punish each other using the legal remedies of employees and
employers in UK private companies. Instead they must resolve
their differences together through dialogue. The workplace is
more argumentative and emotional, but also far more cohesive.
Is the impact measurable? Yes. The business failure rate at
Mondragon is less than 0.5% per annum. You have read that
correctly! In 45 years, only 3 of the 190 businesses have failed.
The governance structure frustrates the arbitrary use of power
and provides structures for parties to work out their differences.
As a result the business survival rate is over 1000% higher than
amongst established businesses in the UK, and 2500% higher
than amongst all UK businesses. For this reason alone their
model of governance and dispute resolution merits close
consideration.
Having traversed the terrain of discipline and control, let us
now look at how these issues feed into discussion of leadership.
The commonly held view that managers are all-powerful does not
hold up under close scrutiny. As I will show in the next chapter,
managers often feel even more controlled than the workers for
which they are responsible. Prepare yourself as we dig beneath
both media and management rhetoric to experience leaders’
reality.

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Notes on Chapter 4
1

Goffman, E. (1969) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life,
Harmondsworth: Penguin.

2

Harris, T., Harris, A. (1986) Staying OK, London: PAN.

3

Harris, T. (1970) I’m OK – You’re OK, London: PAN.

4

See Pease, A., Pease, B. (2004), The Definitive Book of Body

Language, Orion.
5

Adams, J. S. (1965) “Inequity in Social Exchanges” in Berkowitz (ed.)

Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, New York, Academic

Press, 2: 67-300.
6

Brenda, Ben, Diane, Harry and John are all composite fictional
characters drawn from a real study. Because of the sensitivity of the
matters discussed, I have mixed up biographical information about
different people to protect individual identities so it is impossible to
establish who said what. Some of my own experiences are captured
in Ben’s character – but they are mixed with the experience of three
other research participants. While the characters are fictional, the
actions, words and events are not fiction – the events and outcomes
described actually took place. The interpretation I put on them is my
own.

7

Farrell, W. (1994) The Myth of Male Power, Berkeley Books

8

ibid, p. 23

9

Ridley-Duff, R. (2005) Communitarian Perspectives on Corporate
Governance, Sheffield Hallam University, Chapter 5.

10

To avoid a plethora of characters – three cases were combined into a
single storyline to constitute “Irene”. This makes the text easier to
read and focuses attention on the various tactics deployed by
managers to exclude people from the company while staying within
the law.

11

As at 6th March 2003 – the information was gathered during a field trip
from Mikel Lezamiz. The dialogue was transcribed from digital
recordings made on that day.

12

Kasmir, S. (1996) The Myth of Mondragon, State University of New
York Press.

Control and Discipline

131

13

Oakeshott, R. (1990) The Case for Worker Co-ops (2nd Edition),
Macmillan.

14

Transcription of meeting, 6th March 2003.

15

Cheney, G. (1999) Values at Work, ILR Press/Cornell University Press,
p. 139

16

This the current recommendation in the Combined Code that is used
to validate ‘best practice’ in FTSE 100 companies.

17

Turnbull, S. (1994) “Stakeholder Democracy: Redesigning The
Governance of Firms and Bureaucracies”, Journal of Socio-Economics,
23(3): 321-360.

18

Simons, H., Hawkins, D. (1949) Some conditions in macro-economic

stability, Econometrica, 1949.
19

Wilson, F. (2004) Organizational Behaviour and Work (2nd Edition),
Oxford University Press.

20

Ibid.

21

Cornforth C. J., Thomas, A., Spear, R. G., Lewis, J. M. (1988)

Developing Successful Worker Co-ops, Sage Publications.

Chapter 5 – Leaders and Followers
Introduction
As a businessperson, I am no Richard Branson. Nor do I want to
be. I did, however, get a few surprises when I was reading
books on entrepreneurship during 2003. It seems that we have
four things in common.
• Each of our first business ventures failed
• Neither of us was discouraged from trying again
• We both have ‘balanced’ left/right brain activity
• We are both men
I suspect that the comparison pretty much ends there.
Branson, as we all know, is a billionaire – my own worth is a very
tiny faction of his. I have no idea, however, how much wealth I
have generated for others but if we measured it, it is likely to be
considerable. He has always been incredibly good at getting
publicity. I do not much like publicity, although a bit of
recognition does not go amiss. He has (or claims) little interest in
politics – if his performances on Question Time are anything to go
by. I have had a lifelong fascination with political processes,
even though I decided 15 years ago to have no further
involvement with political parties.
Undoubtedly, you have encountered Richard Branson
indirectly through his products. You have probably travelled on
Virgin airlines or trains, bought Virgin cola, or visited Virgin
superstores. You will never have heard of me, but perhaps I also
have touched your life. Perhaps you, or a friend or relative had
cancer and they needed to find a local support group? Or
perhaps you were involved in, or benefited from, one of the
thousands of Millennium Projects? Maybe you are deaf, or have a
friend or relative who is deaf, who called the Royal National
Institute for Deaf People (RNID)? Or you were down on your
luck once, and were rehoused by the Housing Services Agency
(HAS), or lived in sheltered accommodation run by the National

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Children’s Home (NCH), or recovered in a Drink Crisis Centre?
Maybe you booked onto one of the thousands of seminars,
courses or conferences run by the National Council for Voluntary
Organisations (NCVO) or the Careers Research Advisory Services
(CRAC)? If you did any of these, then I have touched your life.
Richard Branson’s fame I can live without but his fortune is
tempting! None of the above projects paid so well that I could
take up the hobby of travelling around the world in a hot air
balloon. And yet, when I reflect on things, I would gladly forego
his fortune if the price was the loss of the life that I have led.
Many years ago, it dawned on me that I could not improve on the
pleasure of an intimate chat in the pub with good friends or with
my wife, children and family over the dinner table.
Lest you think me a moral person, my involvement working in
the social economy was not motivated by a sense of charity – I
believe in trading for a living, both for myself and others. But
somehow, after two years of working at Procter & Gamble, it was
not a difficult decision to stop committing my time to the
manufacture of shampoo and crisps (nice as these things are)
and use my time doing something I found more worthwhile.
The reason I tell you all this, is that most people would
consider Richard Branson far more powerful (and influential) than
me. In one way this is true. In another way it is false. Both
“power” and “leadership” are terms that have been redefined
over the last 40 years by the gender movement. In place of the
idea that power is control or influence over others, firstly women
– and now men – are redefining it as power over their own lives
(including their working lives). Richard Branson may feel that he
has power over his own life, but I would not take this for granted.
The quotation below is long, but because it had such a big
impact on my thinking when I first read it in 1995, I present it at
length and thank the author for their permission1. I cannot read
this story without choking with emotion so let us see what impact
it has on you:
Ralph was a forty-one-year old man in our men’s group. He
was married, the father of two children. He had been in the
1

Excerpt from Warren Farrell, Why Men Are the Way they Are (N.Y.:
Berkley Books, 1988), pp. 3-11. Permission granted by Warren
Farrell: www.warrenfarrell.com.

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group for three months, and had hardly said a word. One
evening he looked up and said, “I think I’d like to speak up
tonight. I’m afraid I joined this group only because my wife
forced me to. She got involved in one of these women’s
movement operations and started changing. She called it
‘growing’. About three months ago she said, ‘Ralph, I’m tired
of having to choose between a relationship with you and a
relationship with myself.’ Pretty fancy rhetoric, I thought.
Then she added, “There’s a men’s group forming that’s
meeting next Tuesday. Why don’t you get involved?”
Well, I kind of laughed her off. But a week later she started
again. ‘The group’s meeting next Tuesday. As far as I’m
concerned, if you’re not doing some changing in three months,
that’s the end!”
“’The end! For the sake of a men’s group?” I asked.
“It’s symbolic, Ralph,” she said.
“So I figured I’d join this symbol and see what you fags were
talking about! But the problem was, you didn’t fit my image,
and I began identifying with some of the things you were
saying. Well, anyway, last night Ginny reminded me the three
months were up tomorrow. So I think I’d like to speak up
tonight.”
We laughed at Ralph’s motivation, but encouraged him to
continue.
“Well, what struck me was how each of you chose different
careers, but you all worried about succeeding. Even you, Jim
– even though you’re unemployed and have a laid-back
facade. That started me thinking about my career.”
“All my life I wanted to play baseball. As a pro. When I was a
sophomore in high school I was pretty hot stuff, and my uncle
came and scouted me. Later he said, ‘Ralph, you’re good.
Damn good. And you might make it to the pros if you really
work at it. But only the best make good money for a long time.
If you really want to be good to yourself, make use of your
intelligence, get yourself a good job – one you can depend on
for life.”
“I was surprised when my folks agreed with him. Especially
Dad. Dad always called me ‘Ralph, who pitched the no-hitter.’
Dad stopped calling me that after that conversation. Maybe
that turned the tide for me.” Ralph hesitated, as if he were

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piecing something together, but he quickly withdrew from his
introspection.
“Anyway, I was proud of myself for making the transition like a
man. I’d always liked reading and learning, but just hadn’t
focused much on it. But I figured just for a couple of years I’d
‘play the system’: borrow friends’ old term papers, take a look
at old exams, focus my reading on the questions different
teachers tended to ask, and so on. I never cheated. I just
figured I’d ‘play the system’ for a couple of years, raise my
grades, then when I got into college, I could really learn – I
could do what I wanted after that.”
“Well, ‘playing the system’ worked. I got into a top-notch
university. But it soon became apparent that a lot of people
graduated from good universities – if I wanted to really stand
out it would help to ‘play the system’ just a few more years, get
into a good grad school or law school, and then, once I did
that, I could do with my life what I wanted after that.
“I decided on law school – but to become a social-work lawyer,
so I could make a real contribution to people who most
needed it. But about my second or third year of law school –
when my colleagues saw I was taking what they called this
‘missionary law’ seriously, they explained that if I really wanted
to be effective as a social-work lawyer, I’d better get some
experience first in the hard-knocks, reality-based field of
corporate law rather than ease into the namby-pamby area of
social-work law right away – if I didn’t I wouldn’t get the
respect to be effective. Frankly, that made sense. So I joined
a top corporate law firm in New York. I knew I could work
there for a couple of years, and then really do what I wanted
with my life after that.
“After a couple of years in the firm, I was doing well. But the
whole atmosphere of the corporate legal community made it
clear that if I dropped out after two years it would be seen as a
sign that I couldn’t hack the pressure. If I continued for just a
couple more years, and became a junior partner – junior
partners were the ones marked with potential – then I could
really do what I wanted with my life after that.
“Well, it took me seven years to get the junior partnership
offered to me – with politics and everything. But I got it. By
that time I had lost some of the desire to be a social-work
lawyer – it was considered a clear step backward. In other

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ways I maintained that ideal – it seemed more meaningful than
kowtowing to rich money. But I also knew the switch would
mean forfeiting a lot of income. My wife Ginny and I had just
bought a new home – which we pretty much had to do with
two kids – and I knew they’d be going to college…..Ginny’s
income was only part-time now, and she was aching to travel
a bit.
“By that time, I also realized that while junior partners had
potential, the people with the real ins in the legal community
were not the junior partners, but the senior partners. I figured I
had a pretty big investment in the corporate law area now – if I
just stuck it out for a couple more years, I could get a senior
partnership, get a little money saved for the kids’ education
and travel, and then I could really do with my life what I
wanted….”
“It took me eight more years to get the senior partnership. I
can remember my boss calling me into the office and saying,
‘Ralph, we’re offering you a senior partnership.” I acted real
calm, but my heart was jumping toward the phone in
anticipation of telling Ginny. Which I did. I told Ginny I had a
surprise. I’d tell her when I got home. I asked her to get
dressed real special. I refused to leak what is was about. I
made a reservation in her favourite restaurant, bought some
roses and her favourite champagne.”
“I came home real early so we’d have time to sip it together; I
opened the door and said, “Guess what?” Ginny was looking
beautiful. She said, “What is it Ralph?” I said, “I got the senior
partnership!” She said, “Oh, fine, that’s great,” but there was a
look of distance in her eyes. A real superficial enthusiasm,
you know what I mean?”
We nodded.
“So I said, “What do you mean “Oh, fine” – I’ve been working
since the day we met to get this promotion for us, and you say
“Oh, fine”?”
“Every time you get a promotion, Ralph”, Ginny announced,
“you spend less time with me. I guess I just wish you’d have
more time for me. More time to love me.”
“Why do you think I’ve been working my ass off all these years
if it isn’t to show you how much I love you?” I said.

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“Ralph, that’s not what I mean by love. Just look at the kids,
Ralph.”
“Well, I did look at the kids. Randy is seventeen. And Ralph
Jr. is fifteen. Randy just got admitted to college – a thousand
miles from here. Each year I keep promising myself that ‘next
year’ I’ll really get to know who they are. ‘Next year…’. ‘Next
year.’ But next year he’ll be in college. And I don’t even
know who he is. And I don’t know whether I’m his dad or his
piggy bank.”
“I don’t know where to begin with Randy, but a few weeks ago
I tried to change things a bit with Ralph Jr. He was watching
TV. I asked him if he wouldn’t’ mind turning it off so we could
talk. He was a bit reluctant, but he eventually started telling
me some of what was happening at school. We talked
baseball, and I told him about some of my days pitching. He
said I’d already told him. He told me about some of his
activities, and I spotted a couple of areas where I thought his
values were going to hurt him. So I told him. We got into a
big argument. He said I wasn’t talking with him, I was
lecturing him…’spying on him’.
“We’ve hardly talked since. I can see what I did wrong –
boasting and lecturing – but I’m afraid if I try again, he’ll be
afraid to say much now, and we’ll just sit there awkwardly.
And if he mentions those values, what do I say? I want to be
honest, but I don’t want to lecture. I don’t even know where to
begin.”
Ralph withdrew from the group. He had struck so many
chords it took us more than ten minutes to notice that he was
fighting back tears. Finally one of the men picked up on it and
asked, “Ralph, is there anything else you’re holding back?”
“I guess maybe I am holding something back,” he said
hesitantly. “I feel like I spent forty years of my life working as
hard as I can to become somebody I don’t even like.”
When I heard that sentence fifteen years ago, I was twentyseven. It’s been perhaps the most important sentence I’ve
heard in my life: “I feel like I’ve spent forty years of my life
working as hard as I can to become somebody I don’t
even like.” Even as I heard it, the ways it was threatening to
be true in my own life flashed through my mind.

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Ralph continued: “I was mentioning some of my doubts to a
few of my associates at work. They listened attentively for a
couple of minutes, then one made a joke, and another
excused himself. Finally, I mentioned this men’s group –
which I never should have done – and they just laughed me
out of the office. I’ve been the butt of jokes ever since: “How
are the US Navel Gazers doing, Ralph boy?”
“Suddenly I realized. Ginny had a whole network of lady
friends she can talk with about all this. Yet the men I’ve
worked with for seventeen years, sixty hours a week, hardly
know me. Nor do they want to.”
Ralph withdrew again. But this time he seemed to be taking in
what he had just said as if he were putting together his life as
he was speaking. Then his face grew sad. A few of us who
might otherwise have said something held back.
“I guess I could handle all this,” Ralph volunteered, fighting
back tears again, “but I think, for all practical purposes, I’ve
lost Ginny in the process. And maybe I could handle that, too.
But the only other people I love in this world are Randy and
Ralph Jr. And when I’m really honest with myself – I mean
really honest – I think for all practical purposes I’ve lost them
too –“
We started to interrupt, but Ralph stopped us, tears silently
escaping his eye. “What really gets me...what really gets me
angry is that I did everything I was supposed to do for forty
years, did it better than almost any other man I know, and I
lost everyone I love in the process, including myself. I don’t
mean to be philosophical, but the more I did to stand out, the
more I became the same. Just one more carbon copy. Oh, I
got to a high level, okay. A high-level mediocre.
“In some ways, I feel I could handle all that too. But look at
me – paid more than any two of you guys put together,
supposedly one of the top decision-makers in the country, and
when it comes to my own home, my own life, I don’t even
know how to begin.”
Ralph cried. For the first time in twenty-two years.
Ralph is with me almost every day of my life. Every time I am
appreciated or applauded, the image of Ralph makes me
wonder whether the applause is seducing me into saying
something that is popular but less honest than I want to be.

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Sometimes, of course, I just forget Ralph and take the
applause, but the image of Ralph is there as a resource when
I’m in my more secure moments.
After that session, I started looking at my own life and Ralph’s
life differently. I had always assumed power meant having
status and access to income, influence, and external rewards.
Ralph had all of them. Yet up close he didn’t seem very
powerful. I started asking whether power meant, rather, the
ability to control my own life. And that made looking at power
much more compatible with looking within myself.
Most men feel much less powerful than Ralph. Ralph is a
winner among men – and women. Compared to him, millions
of men are losers. If you are a man, powerlessness is hearing
a bomb go off and watching your only buddy’s head spurt
blood before you told him you cared. Powerlessness is
returning with agent orange from a war that you were thought
of as a fool or a murderer for fighting, having your government
refusing to take responsibility for agent orange contamination,
passing it onto your daughter and looking at her deformed arm
everyday of your life, paying taxes to support the war, and
then being told “you make the rules.” From his perspective,
that’s blaming the victim. At eighteen he did not make the rule
to subject himself to death while his sister stayed at home,
received an education, and married a survivor. He didn’t feel
powerful when women had an equal right to join the armed
forces for money, but not an equal responsibility to be drafted.
If we define power in traditional terms – the ability to gain
access to external rewards – Ralph had it over all the men in
the group. And almost all the women in America. Yet, if we
redefine power as the ability to control one’s own life, Ralph
probably had less power than anyone in the group. Ralph had
given up the ability to control his own life by spending his life
doing what he was programmed to do. Most of us were
questioning at least some of the things we were programmed
to do. Ralph had lost real power by trying to gain the
appearance of power. He was a leader. But he was following
“a program for leaders”; therefore, he was really a follower.
He had reached a high level, but had done so by adapting to
his boss and his boss’s boss.

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Gender researchers have found that our aspirations for
relationships and children play a pivotal role in career choice and
development. Consider how your relationships have influenced
your career development. If you have (or want to have) children,
how has it affected you? How have your (and your partner’s)
aspirations changed your role at home and at work? How much
choice do you have in determining whether you work or are a
parent? Did you and your partner ever discuss who would be the
primary worker and who would be the primary carer? Or was it
just ‘common sense’ who would do what?

The Five Components of Power
I do not know if it the above story is actually true or a narrative
invented to introduce men to their own issues. Frankly, I do not
care – it such a damn good story that any man who has held a
leadership role will surely find at least a dozen things that
resonate. And maybe for some women too! While I do not fully
share Farrell’s views either on the prospects for change, or the
way to conceptualise power (see Chapter 7), it was a moment of
profound intellectual insight to reconceptualise power as the
ability to control one’s own life (see below).
Ralph’s life was full of gains and losses. His gains and losses
are the same as those experienced by some women who devote
themselves to their careers – they can learn from Ralph as well.
When John Molloy did a study of career women, he found that
only 20% would - if they could have their time over - forsake
family life or marriage a second time1. That is less than the 30%
of full-time mothers who - if they could have their time again said they would not choose full-time motherhood again2.
As Betty Friedan so powerfully argues in her book The Second
Stage, women’s and men’s happiness still comes primarily from
being with each other – whether at work or at home. The many
stories of emptiness and lack of fulfilment in the lives of working
women were the basis of her argument. Add this to the stories
of emptiness told by women as housewives inside marriage3, men
as husbands inside marriage4, or as fathers struggling to remain
in touch with their children5, and suddenly we can join the dots.
We are doing long-term damage to our personal lives by

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accepting corporate ways of thinking about how to organise life
(and even society).
As we weigh up the gains and losses, has an emphasis on
power of the first type (status, success, income) meant a loss of
power of the second type (control over one’s life)? This question
led Farrell to a redefine power as access to the following in line
with our expectations and aspirations:
• External rewards (e.g. income, possessions, status)
• Internal rewards (e.g. emotional release, positive
self-image)
• Interpersonal contact (attention, affection, love)
• Physical health (well-being, attractiveness and
intelligence)
• Sexual fulfilment (satisfaction of desire and enjoyment
of sensual pleasures)
In the rest of this chapter, I examine some the realities of
leadership and power. It is not a picture of misery, but nor is it
the idealised image portrayed in the media. Leaders are human
beings too and the behaviour of their “followers” affects them.
They become recognised as leaders either because they obtain
the wealth to command and control resources, or because others
continually propel them into leadership roles on account of their
talents and skills. I examine these two routes to leadership and
the impacts of each. The conclusions drawn from this discussion
may surprise you and will resurface when we consider the
dynamics of sexual conflict in Chapter 6.

Bottom Up and Top Down Leaders
I have had two periods of Ralph-like experience – admittedly less
acute. The first was during the 1980s and the second was from
the mid-1990s to 2002. After graduating in 1986, I went to work
for Procter & Gamble. My career started as a personal assistant
to a manager, followed by a move to the IT department to
provide temporary support to computer users. Eventually, my
appointment was made permanent and within 9 months I
became Data Centre Manager for Procter & Gamble (HABC) Ltd

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with responsibility for several sites across the United Kingdom
(UK).
Although I did not reach the heady heights that Ralph did, I
can relate to the pattern of his life. Firstly, I had to earn my
stripes by accepting a junior role. After a period of commitment,
my appointment was made permanent (along with new perks and
pay rises).
Lastly, as a
manager I was given an
Theories of leadership abound. They are
expense account, enjoyed paid
generally divided into those that
emphasise the personal qualities of the
business trips both in the UK
leader, and suggest that whatever the
and abroad, extensive and
context a good leader will emerge.
expensive management and
Other theories examine the match
technical training. The way I
between personality and context, as
was treated by suppliers was
well as the adaptability of a person to
radically different: what a
different contexts.
difference it makes when you
An emergent, bottom up, leader is
control a budget of half a
someone whose skills, in a particular
million pounds! With hindsight,
context, results in them becoming the
I can see the attractiveness of
focus of attention so that they have to
this lifestyle, but it was not for
take the lead in particular situations.
me and I got out. You must
This view of leadership holds out the
think I am mad, but read on.
hope each person can find a context in
The second period of Ralphwhich they are capable of exercising
leadership qualities.
like experience took place at
Computercraft Ltd. I took a
A top-down leader is a someone who
pay cut – something that Ralph
comes to the fore whatever the context.
considered, but was persuaded
This view of leadership holds the view
not to do – to follow my social
that some people are ‘born leaders’. In
the last few years – after Daniel
aspirations. I decided to spend
Goleman’s work became popular –
the next part of life teaching
people have discussed the idea of primal
and
providing
consultancy
leadership. This theory suggests that
services to social economy
leaders become so because they have
organisations.
Although an
the capacity to affect others emotions
egalitarian
co-operative
(it had
more deeply.
an equal pay and voting rights
policy for over a decade)
leaders still emerged on the basis of their wealth-creating
powers. This is how Mike, a newly recruited technician, described
the organisation when he joined in 2000:
The co-operative style did not really touch me, it felt like a
normal company but more friendly and supportive, a total

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143

contrast to the company I’d come from. We all got on: we
knew what we were doing in the period of Autumn 2000. But
in head office there were lots of individuals – it did not feel like
a complete company because people were doing their own
thing. That idea persisted throughout. What stood out there
all the way through was that the dominant members were Phil,
Des and Rory, particularly Phil/Rory. A few others made
telling contributions but the remainder were like ordinary
workers. I got a feeling that it was not really like a
co-operative because there was this hierarchy. People had
different abilities and powers – Phil in particular seemed
powerful, really dominant in meetings.
What Mike drew to my attention was that all three workers
who were seen as leaders were at the centre of important
streams of income. I had developed an off-the-shelf software
product. Phil headed accounting advice and services. Des was
responsible for customised software products. Whether we
wanted it or not customers kept coming back for more work.
We, in turn, had to train others, and manage the advice and
support given to clients.
The emergent nature of this process is something I (and
probably others) call ‘bottom-up leadership’ – it stems from
acquiring skills to support both colleagues and customers and
evolves slowly over time in a balanced manner. Eventually,
individuals become the focal point for an increasing number of
social and financial exchanges: customers may not agree a
contract unless a key person is involved.
Emergent, bottom up, leadership is accorded to a person that
colleagues and customers trust. Later, when Computercraft
wanted to sell the product I had developed to another software
development company, the buyer wanted me as part of the deal.
My clients did not want these terms so the product sale did not
go through. My choice was to support (and draw my power
from) my clients, rather than the potential purchaser who would
have limited my (and my clients) freedom to trade.
The difference between Procter & Gamble (HABC) Ltd and
Computercraft Ltd was the process by which I gradually learned
and assumed leadership responsibilities. In the first case, the
decisions came from those “above” me in the hierarchy – my
managers and their managers. In the case of Computercraft Ltd,
however,
the
decision
came
from
those
“below”

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(colleagues/customers) who continually wanted my leadership
even when I was trying to reduce and delegate my involvement.

Debating the Process of Leadership
The contrast in top-down and bottom-up leadership development
is apparent in discussions I had later with Harry and John. The
following is an extract from a series of email exchanges about the
way leaders are identified and developed at Custom Products
compared to Computercraft. After attending Custom Products’
management classes, I suggested that John’s role marking
assignments gave him a ‘gate keeping’ role over who could
become a leader. John responded:
All organisations have a culture and a set of values which is
sustained in part by senior people's decisions about who is
suitable to take management positions (or indeed any type of
promotion). I think we are no different except that it is a lot less
subjective and a lot more open than many organisations.
Larger organisations have management training and the
training reflects the values held by that organisation. This is
the same in any company where people want to advance.
There are control mechanisms in every organisation where
people feel pressure if they want to advance their careers, we
are not so different.
John takes for granted that it is, or should be, senior staff who
make decisions about promotions. In response, I drew attention
to a person whose leadership was emergent but had avoided
management classes:
Nancy commands the respect of her colleagues (a natural
leader, you might say) and has avoided the classes for many
years. Chris [a production worker] said that most people in the
team looked up to her, and went to her for advice if there was
a query about procedure. When I chatted to her, I found that
she'd not attended the classes and did not intend to. Chris
assumed Nancy was the team leader and only later learnt it
was someone else. It stuck me that in a different set-up her
abilities may have been recognised and led to her promotion.
Later, I found out that Nancy was interviewed by Brenda
about her career. Brenda’s view was that Nancy was “too
abrasive” for a leadership role. Others, through their actions,

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showed their disagreement. The discussion was of interest to
Harry. He joined in by commenting:
You overplay John's position of influence in the assessment
process [as the marker of assignments]. He does contribute
to the creation of - hopefully - a rounded picture of individuals
adding to input from line managers, HR and other directors.
It's fascinating isn't it?
I am though perplexed at my inability to spot a "natural leader"
as well as you. If the need to undergo relevant training and
development prior to taking on a leadership role is acting as
an obstacle to the progression of natural leaders, I'm definitely
missing something. Alternatively, are you being subjective in
your assessment of the individual concerned?
On the first point, John felt his role was a key one:
My role is an interesting one and it is mainly there to provide
consistency and the link between facilitators. The criteria for
assessing the assignments is reasonably objective and again
you are right that if people show insufficient understanding of
the classes through their assignments it does present them
with a problem in terms of advancing. However, the gate is
always open in the sense they can do the classes again.
On the second point, Harry resorts to a common
misconception amongst managers – namely, that their own
decision-making processes are “objective” and that everyone
else’s are “subjective”. As my response below illustrates, the
distinction between subjective and objective is somewhat
arbitrary.
We do it differently - it is not a case of being better/worse. We
have developed different strategies for spotting how well
people are developing. At Computercraft we had no
appointment system for managers, but inevitably people
assumed management roles (otherwise the place would not
have functioned). This led to a paper in the late 90s that put
together an understanding of the way management
responsibilities were assumed within the group. We conceived
a person's evolution in roughly the following terms:
Trainee: when they are learning the job. Professional: when
they are proficient enough to perform their job unsupervised,
but still need some support. Expert: when they become a

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reference point for others - so much so that most people in the
group consult them regularly. Manager: a person who has
constructed information systems that allows a 'learning' culture
to develop. So yes - my assessment is subjective, but framed
from within this 'objective' model.
The model at Custom Products depends only on reports from
managers, human resource officers, directors, and John’s
assignment marks. Informal feedback might also play a role but
in interviews it was rare for executives to talk about consulting
“subordinates” except when handling complex and difficult
situations. Feedback from peer-group members and subordinates
– as part of an instituted process – was not part of the
evaluation.
The model at Computercraft, however, was informed by which
individuals were becoming the focus of social and economic
transactions – this was the way that ‘natural’ leaders were
spotted by new staff. Moreover, the formal appraisal process
involved peer, self and managerial feedback.
New staff
internalised their position in the hierarchy by observing how they
were treated by others and then used this knowledge to navigate
the workplace. While the structure is less obvious, it is common
for
researchers
investigating
theoretically
egalitarian
organisations to ask simple questions to establish the hierarchies.
Who do I go to for x? Who can tell me y? Such questions quickly
expose hierarchies of knowledge, experience and expertise.

Laughter Dynamics
People have sophisticated and subtle ways to indicate who they
do and do not wish to become leader. For example, research into
laughter shows how it is a social activity that signifies the state of
a relationship – particularly when considering the level of
women’s laughter. It is now understood that laughter is one of
the ways that hierarchies are communicated to group members.6
Women more often control the development of private
relationships (intimacy), men more often the development public
personae (performances). While laughter has been characterised
as a “submissive” behaviour, another view is that it builds up the
ego of the party who is making the jokes and encourages them to
continue leading (although at a deeper level they are actually
responding to an invitation). How “submissive” behaviour is used
as a power play is revealed by Emily Duberley7:

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Asking a man about himself is flattering as it shows that you
are interested in him. Also, almost every man enjoys talking
about himself. It makes him feel interesting, valued, and quite
simply, happy – and it’s no bad thing at all for your chances if
a guy feels that he’s happier since he started talking to you.
Laugh at a bloke’s jokes too. Men love this – it makes them
feel all big and clever, which is always a good way to get them
on-side. A shared sense of humour is a great way to bond.
Robert Provine discusses the way these dynamics are evident
in the workplace but falls into the trap of assuming the joke-teller
is ‘dominant’. He regards ‘downward humour’ as a symbolic
representation of the power of more senior members of staff.
A moment’s reflection, however, bears some interesting fruit.
Consider a comedy club with stand up comedians. How powerful
does the comedian feel? How powerful is the audience? An
audience withholding laughter from a comedian sends a powerful
message (“not wanted here”) so patterns of laughter with
‘leaders’ cracking jokes and ‘followers’ laughing show only that
formal relationships are accepted informally (at least publicly).
The process of laughter is not just a way to seduce a potential
leader, it is also part of the process of indicating who should lead
(i.e. accepting someone as a public performer on the group’s
behalf). Provine summarises the issue as follows:
The least amount of speaker laughter occurred when males
were conversing with females – this grouping was the only one
of the four...having less speaker than audience laughter. As
audiences, both males and females were more selective in
whom they laughed at or with than they were as speakers –
neither males nor females laugh as much at females as male
speakers. In summary, females are the leading laughers…8
Interestingly men suppress their laughter when talking to
women, and women play up the amount of laughter when
listening to men that they like. Both sexes were more selective
as listeners, and women’s laughter was particularly important in
this respect.
As Emily Duberley’s passage indicates, the choice to laugh at
someone’s attempted joke or witticism is part of the process of
selecting and seducing. In place of the commonly held image of
leaders making their followers laugh, another view emerges.
Leaders invite people to follow by saying something (perhaps

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telling a joke) and followers signal their approval by laughing.
The laughter from the respondent signals consent, a proactive
strategy in the choice of the leader.
Think of the last time you had a good laugh with friends or work
colleagues. Who was triggering the laughter? Was it a collective
process, or was one person generating all the laughter? Who
told jokes and who listened? Is the joke-teller the person you
regard as the group leader? Did you tell or make jokes within the
group? How did others respond to you?
In some contexts, I have found my jokes hit their mark and
create lots of laughter (particularly giving ‘best man’ speeches at
weddings!) In other contexts, my jokes fell flat. Why do you
think this is? Is it the joke? The joke teller? Or is it the
relationship between joke teller and audience?

Hazing and Harassment
Another way that leaders are selected is through a process of
hazing9. Hazing behaviours are often labelled as “harassing” by
recipients who are unable to stop them or cope with them, but
the interpretation put on hazing behaviour differs depending on
the recipient’s understanding of its meaning. Hazing behaviours
serve two purposes: firstly, to see whether a person will accept
the behavioural norms and authority relations within the group;
secondly, to screen for people who will stand up for themselves
when challenged or threatened.
Hazing, therefore, can have diametrically opposite meanings,
depending on the intentions of the hazer. If a person is seeking
someone who will be submissive, they will be looking for a
response that indicates acceptance of their will (or point of view).
But if they are looking for someone to lead, they may issue a
challenge and look for a reaction, particularly one that indicates a
capacity for balanced judgement. The recipient, of course, will
not know in advance which response will win them favour –
hence the ambiguity and angry reactions that can result from
cross-purposes. Someone expecting submissive behaviour but
receiving an independent judgement may themselves feel
challenged and become angry or defensive. Someone expecting
independent judgement but seeing submission may feel contempt

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or disappointment. When expectations and reactions match,
however, attraction is the result (in one, but not necessarily both,
directions).
This is why the current construction and understanding of
‘harassment’ is so problematic.10 Hazing is a normal behaviour
for both men and women. While men’s hazing is frequently
labelled ‘harassment’, women’s hazing is usually not recognised
at all, especially by women. Only a small group of men
interested in gendered behaviour are even aware that women
harass as much as men. It is, however, reconstructed so that the
derogatory term associated with it is applied to men who cannot
resist a woman’s demands. He, and not she, is labelled ‘pussywhipped’.11
I find it interesting that when a man hazes a woman we tend
to blame him by labelling him a “harasser” or “stalker”. When
women haze men, the tendency is again to label (and blame) the
man, rather than the woman, but this time using the word
“pussy-whipped”. When I asked Caroline if she could think of a
word for a woman who repeatedly sends messages to men who
never respond, her response was “desperate”!
It is worth stressing that hazing behaviour is as common
within same-sex groups as cross-sex groups. Girls increasingly
rely on verbal hazing to resolve their disputes in the playground
(particularly in their teens) and continue this into adulthood.
Boys, particularly those used to sporting environments, continue
to resolve such battles through a mixture of verbal and physical
confrontation.12
The issue, therefore, appears to be one of consent and
meaning, not just actual behaviour. A new group member may
see advantages in perpetuating the appearance of subordination
as a strategy for gaining acceptance and influence within a group.
The critical moment is when the submissive behaviour stops. If
his or her peers accept the change then this indicates acceptance
as a group member. But if hazing behaviour continues when the
member does not consent, the social dynamic is oppressive (and
the member has not yet been fully accepted).
At the other extreme, deliberate passivity (i.e. intentionally
waiting for others to take initiatives) can be a powerful strategy
for selecting and developing a person willing to accept
responsibility for leadership. Both men and women can engage
in this type of behaviour, but passivity is more often directed

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towards men to induce them to take a leading role in difficult,
awkward or dangerous situations. It is particularly common when
conflicts or threats to the group occur. It does not, however,
necessarily indicate that the person has assumed a position of
power (over their own life).

The Power of Passivity
Last year, I listened to someone talking about their experiences
studying nurses who broke bad news to bereaved relatives.
What emerged was that male nurses, even though in a minority,
usually broke bad news. They internalised this as a sign of their
‘inherent’ leadership skills, and also rationalised that relatives
would probably prefer to hear bad news from a man.
What emerged from the interviews with female nurses,
however, was that they did not like giving bad news and routinely
looked for a male nurse to do it for them. Who is the leader and
who the follower? In the short term – in traditional (and genderbased) power terms – the woman is exercising power. Not only
is she delegating a task but also exercising most control over her
own life. In the longer term, however, the situation can change
due to an accumulation of bottom-up leadership processes. Let
me explain how this happens.
Repeated exposure to more difficult, challenging or dangerous
tasks teaches interpersonal and learning skills – it prepares a
person for career advancement.
Such subtle processes,
therefore, can result in emergent bottom-up leadership whereby
the person who gets used to more challenging work develops
skills that others do not acquire.
We once had discussions about this at Computercraft. At an
annual review, the men and women broke into gender groups to
discuss how sexism against women affected the workplace.
There was a highly unusual outcome in the men’s group and I
reconstruct the dialogue below (you’ll have to allow me a bit of
licence here!):
Brian:

It pisses me off when people ring up and ask for the
manager and expect it to be a man. It is demeaning
to the women.

Henry: Yeah – I agree, but it means that we [the men] have
to deal with the more difficult calls all the time. That
pisses me off too.

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Rory:

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Yes, the women are much better at empowering
themselves. They say ‘no’ much more than we do!

Julian: That’s right. If there is a problem with a client, it is
usually you [points to Rory] or me who ends up having
to deal with it. While they are empowering
themselves by saying ‘no’ – we are landed with all the
shit.
Henry: But maybe you get landed with this because people
expect it of you.
Rory:

I think what Julian is saying is that it is not just men
who expect to speak to a man as manager, it is also
an assumption amongst women, and also implicit in
the way things work inside the company.

Brian:

You mean that they want the men to do the harder
jobs and deal with the most difficult customers?

Rory:

Not necessarily. I mean that they want the option to
pass something on if they feel they can’t deal with it.
They get to choose, but we don’t. I’m not sure who is
being discriminated against more – the women (for
being ignored) or the men (for getting landed with the
most difficult problems).

The moral of this story, perhaps, is that men need to learn the
value of saying ‘no’ as well. Moreover, we need to ask why men
are more reluctant to say ‘no’, or why they like to say ‘yes’. Is
there a fear of being seen as weak? Is there a sexual dynamic
inducing men behave in particular ways in the company of
women? Have they already learnt that they will be disciplined (by
both women and other men) if they say ‘no’ to a woman?
Emotion is important here. What the men believed (but may
not have actually been true) was that the more threatening the
call, the more likely it would be passed (or escalated) to a man.
While we recognised the disrespect shown to our female
colleagues, we also began to see the disrespect implicit in callers
(male or female) feeling they could vent their anger more freely
at a man than a woman. As our discussion developed, we got a
sense that we had less choice over whether to accept it. We
were expected to handle the anger of others. If we did not,
others got angry at us.

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It was about 5 years later that Mike identified three men as de
facto leaders at Computercraft. This situation arose even when

women constituted 50% of the directors and all had one vote in
management meetings. “Followers”, in this case mostly women,
had become agents inducing leadership behaviours through
various rewards (loyalty, flattery, money and sexual attention) or
repeated insistence that someone else deal with their most
difficult problems.
Such behaviours encourage leaders to keep leading, to keep
accepting responsibility when things go wrong. In turn, these de
facto leaders improve their skills at dealing with complex
situations but also got resentful and frustrated at feeling used by
others.
Herein lies the cause of some authoritarian
confrontations (a battle of wills) between ‘leaders’ and ‘followers’
who seek to delegate responsibilities pushed onto them by “the
other”.
We can begin to see another way that firms and hierarchies
develop – through a social process whereby people (employees,
suppliers and investors) seek out and ally themselves with those
who can be induced to accept responsibility. Through this
process, wealth and responsibility are exchanged for followership.
Social organisation is driven by the search of many for
the few who can generate wealth and handle conflicts.
And what if they stop generating wealth or refuse to handle
conflicts? Typically, they are discarded by their followers who
then search for a new leader.13

Definitional Problems with ‘Harassment’
It is for these combined reasons, that ‘harassment’ is a difficult
concept to pin down.
Taking initiatives becomes habitual
behaviour of those working (or living) amongst others who like to
avoid responsibility. What appears as harassment to a new group
member might simply be habitual or “normal” behaviour that has
been induced by “followers”. There is much to be gained from
exploring how one person’s “harassment” can be another
person’s friendliness.
Men claim they do not take women seriously as potential
leaders if they resist subordination, or place a higher value on
their own well-being than the group they intend to serve. The
main criticism is that women show themselves to be less willing
to sacrifice themselves, put themselves in danger or take risks –

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qualities that men accept as the price of leadership.14 The main
criticism of men by women, however, is that such behaviour is
“masculine”, misogynist and rooted in a desire for domination and
control.15 Clearly there needs to be a lively debate here because
the “male” argument is that the ability to cope with “harassing”
behaviour shows a person’s capacity and willingness to serve
others (i.e. cope with the demands of leadership), while the
“female” argument is that “harassing” behaviour is a desire to
dominate others. Which of these views is correct?
By constructing ‘hazing’ as “harassment”, the process by
which people have traditionally come to build high trust
relationships (to prepare for collective working in dangerous
situations) has become obscured and misunderstood. Hazing
behaviour – while disliked – is not so much ‘masculine’ as a set of
behaviours associated with preparation for dangerous and risky
occupations. If a person is able to survive it, the result is a
particularly high level of trust in that person. It is for this reason
that hazing is most prevalent in occupations like the police, fire
fighting, the armed forces, executive teams and politics. The
question, however, remains why hazing also occurs in other
environments? In student fraternities, for example, there is no
need for it and yet it occurs.
Is it a deeply ingrained
anachronism, or does it serve another purpose?
“Harassment” might be any of the following: an act of
personal violation to gain control through fear; behaviour that
others consider over-friendly (“showing the ropes” too eagerly); a
genuine interest to establish a lasting and equitable relationship
(by testing out whether another will submit if challenged, or put
up resistence). Accusations of harassment may be made to ward
off or reduce the amount of unwanted attention, to avoid
responsibility for previous actions, or a strategy to control and
isolate ‘weak’ individuals.
Have you ever felt harassed or been accused of harassment? To
what extent were your feelings to do with the behaviour of the
other person, or your feelings about the other person? One
criticism of ‘harassment’ claims is that the same behaviour from
two different people is treated differently by the accuser. This
raises the question of who is really doing the harassing…

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As we saw earlier, genuine harassment results in weight-loss,
headaches, anxiety, loss of sleep and fear. Did you experience
these symptoms? Did you find ways to cope on your own or did
you get help from others?

A Second Case
Leadership and followership are more or less equally emotional.
Let us use a second case to consider leader/follower dynamics.
This case considers underlying sexual jealousies as well as formal
relationships.
Andy, Simon and Neil established a small employee-owned
company and proceeded to recruit three other staff. The
ownership of the company was divided as follows:
• 41% Andy (Chief Executive)
• 40% SoftContact (UK) Ltd (sister business)
• 10% Simon (Sales and Marketing Manager)
• 8% Pauline, Gayle and Neil and Gary (other staff)
• 1% Private individuals
In 2002, due to falling sales, Simon started to disagree with Andy
over the running of the company. I talked to four staff: Andy,
Gayle, Pauline and Neil. I also retrieved the views of others from
emails, letters, minutes and memos in various company files16.
In early interviews, Pauline and Gayle expressed the view that
problems started when Simon sought to take over the company:
Pauline: He was always bringing this stuff into the meetings.
I felt it was very personal, like he had a personal
vendetta [against Andy].
Rory:

Was he trying to persuade everybody?

Gayle: Yeah. He was quite open about it, yeah.
Rory:

With everybody present? Or one at a time?

Gayle: A bit of both, really. He didn’t seem to pick his
moment - it was just at any possible opportunity.

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Rory:

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Why do you think he was focussing on what was
happening outside work?

Gayle: I think he was trying to make out that he was superior
- he was working to further his own position. He was
always destabilising things.
Rory:

How calculating was this?

Pauline: Yeah, I think it was calculated. I think he was out to
further his own career.
Simon’s attempt to become leader failed when he could not
establish the support to win a vote of no-confidence in Andy.
Andy remained unaware – until I interviewed him – that Simon
had attempted a takeover.
Neil and Pauline expressed the view that the reason they did
not support Simon was that he could not offer an alternative
business plan. Gayle just felt “it was wrong” for Simon to work
behind the scenes to take over the company. It is possible that
existing staff were afraid how Andy would react, but this view
was not expressed in interviews or company documents.
When Simon could not take over, he resigned as a director,
but remained as an employee. Simon wrote to Andy the
following:
I have approached you before when I felt risk was being piled
on me without having the authority to agree as you were
taking these decisions yourself. I am no longer happy to take
on this liability at a time when I have no confidence in the
organisation to pull through without drastically downsizing.
Although we set up the company as democratic, it has been
run as a traditional small business with the major investor
taking all the major decisions and not clearly defining the area
of responsibility of the CEO. I feel this position is too powerful
and should not be held by a director.
Andy’s response tells a rather different story:
We discussed matters at a management meeting with you,
Gayle and Neil. We then took external advice. I took some
decisions as CEO. As the rules of the company, and the
guidance notes make clear (see document 9 j) and k) attached
– the CEO is responsible for management of the company and
its employees, [while business planning and policy is decided
collectively].

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All job descriptions were prepared during the company
induction and circulated to all members of staff for comment.
All the comments were collated and updated by Gayle and the
job descriptions were recirculated to everyone upon their
appointment. You have conducted my appraisal twice and not
raised these issues.
By resigning as a director, Simon felt that he could protect
himself from the deteriorating trade situation using employment
law. Taking advantage of his new status, he threatened to take
the company to a tribunal for discrimination (the basis of which
was never made clear, although there are hints that he intended
to say he was discriminated against for his religious beliefs).
Andy’s frustration at Simon’s changed behaviour comes through
in a private email:
In this company – democratic or not – everyone looks to me
for leadership. I’m usually fine. If things are going well it feels
good – naturally. However, to be threatened and accused
when things go badly is crushing. I can cope – just. But if I
must accept responsibility, I must be more choosey and
careful in selecting staff. No lame ducks. No legal minded
selfish bastards to fuck things up moaning about their ‘rights’
while they destroy the company.
I guess the law is right that an employer must consult
employees before changing a contract but surely it is wrong
when people risk everything to tie their hands while they watch
their life savings going down the toilet because one member of
staff looking out only for themselves holds their colleagues to
ransom?
The constraints on Andy came from changes in employment
law. His professional advisers informed him that employers were
finding it impossible to win tribunals. Legal changes had been
made in April 2002 that the burden of proof had switched to the
employer to show that an employee had consented to each
change in their employment contract. Andy also felt a burden
from company law: if he ignored professional advice, he could
personally become liable for all the debts of the company.
He considered ignoring professional advice, but came to the
view that the company would go bankrupt if Simon made a claim
(even if the company eventually won the case). After Simon’s
threat, the financial position of the company worsened because
the potential liability had to be factored into management

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accounts. Andy called in an insolvency practitioner to advise.
Two weeks later, the shareholders voted to close the company
down.
While a power struggle between leaders is a tempting way to
understand the above conflict, there is another explanatory
framework which will be elaborated below. It weakens the idea
that the above conflict was simply a power battle between Andy
and Simon for control of the company. There is another, perhaps
subliminal, domain of conflict.

An Alternative Explanation
Andy was married to Susan, who worked elsewhere. During
interviews, however, I uncovered a close relationship between
Andy and Gayle. The changes this prompted in the relationship
between Simon and Gayle were significant. The following is a
conversation between Andy and Pauline (one of Gayle’s work
colleagues).
Andy:

Gayle came in very upset once after breaking up with
her boyfriend. At that time she used to come in at the
weekend quite often, sometimes on her own,
sometimes when Neil and I worked. She’d been out
drinking with an old friend, made a pass at him and
he’d rejected her. I felt sorry for her so I wrote a funny
poem to cheer her up.

Pauline: There was a lot of banter sometimes.
Andy:

Yes, particularly early on – Simon used to try to flirt
with Gayle a lot, but that seemed to change after she
went to London with him. She felt he undermined her
and raised it with me. She said she could cope and
did not want me to intervene.

Pauline: Banter makes the office a pleasant place to be.
Andy:

What is it about, though?

Pauline: It’s not always about getting into bed. It makes the
workplace tolerable and fun if people are sensible. I
do it purely for the sport.
Andy:

I remember Gayle once walked into the office and
complained “why are there no good looking blokes
around here?”

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Pauline: Yes, you quickly interjected “present company
excepted”. I don’t think she realised how offensive
she sounded at times.
Andy:

Yes. Gayle broke up with her boyfriend and Simon
increased his attempts to flirt. Once he came on
strongly and made a comment after which she
responded contemptuously “in your dreams….”
I think that hurt him. Later that day she talked to me
about not being able to sleep and said it was a shame
other men were not as lovely as me. I was really
taken aback at the contrast in how she talked to
Simon and then to me. I grew fond of her after that.
When Simon later met Rebecca, he changed. He just
seemed to want out.

Pauline: He married Rebecca, later, didn’t he?
Andy:

Yes, in late 2002, I think.

Pauline: Did your relationship with Gayle cause problems in
your marriage?
Andy:

Yes.

Pauline: You were having a hard time at home, weren’t you?
Andy:

I was struggling to come to terms with Susan’s affair
[Andy’s wife]. As for Susan, I think that as long as the
company existed, she could believe that Gayle and I
were work friends. When we continued writing to
each other after Gayle left the company, Susan felt
threatened.

Pauline: Simon felt that you were too close to Gayle. I often
wondered if Simon was jealous.
Andy:

He saw me spending time - and sharing information with Gayle rather than him. Did he feel threatened by
Gayle, I wonder, by my closeness to her? Do you
think his jealousy was purely business?

Pauline: No, No. He felt you were getting too close.
Andy:

I thought that he wanted to keep Gayle out of the
management group.

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The increasing intimacy between Gayle and Andy created an
incentive for Simon to:
• control Andy
intimacy)

(emotional

desire

to

maintain/increase

• discipline Gayle (emotional desire to decrease intimacy)
There is, however, another dynamic not known to any of the
parties except those directly involved. Gayle was providing
support for Andy to reconcile with his wife, Susan. Although
Susan’s workplace affair had ended, its impact on Andy and
Susan’s marriage was considerable. They had been extremely
close and the affair damaged their friendship, not just their
marriage.
Andy and Susan started going to Relate (a counselling
organisation). Simon, whose own marriage had broken down
after discovering that one of his children was not his own, had
particularly strong feelings about how Andy should respond:
Andy:

I remember once talking to Simon in the kitchen. He
offered to give Susan and I counselling. I backed off
– the idea was totally laughable.
At that time, only Gayle was encouraging me to see
things from Susan’s point of view. Only Gayle
seemed to be encouraging me to work things through
with Susan. Simon told me that I should “take a
man’s point of view”, but I responded that I wanted to
get both men’s and women’s point of view.
Later, even Susan admitted that she owed a debt to
Gayle, that she played a part in helping to save the
marriage. At the time, however, emotions ran high
across all these relationships.

Taken as a whole, these backstage dynamics offer another
explanation for leader and follower behaviour.
Simon’s
performance was affected by a perception that he was losing
power to Gayle (and could not compete with her on equal terms).
He claims Andy was distracted by issues at home, but few others
gave this view any credence. Nevertheless, it affected both
Simon and Andy on personal and professional levels. Simon’s
own feelings towards Gayle were also a factor and we need to
consider the possibility that he felt both personally and
professionally rejected.

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The power struggle between Simon and Andy, therefore, was
underpinned by a value conflict rooted in gender issues. Neil and
Simon objected to Gayle using her sexuality to gain influence, but
used class prejudice to undermine her growing influence. Andy
rejected their arguments, pointing out her competence, as well as
the democratic commitments of the company. Neil and Simon,
however, speculated that his views had more to do with sexual
attraction.17
What are your views on power now you have read this chapter?
Have you ever turned down a position because you did not want
more responsibility? What impact did this have on others? Did
you ever take a job because you wanted extra responsibility?
Can you remember why you felt able to accept it? How did it
affect other relationships? Did anyone become less friendly? Did
anyone become friendlier? Did you feel lonelier or suddenly
become the centre of attention?

Reconsidering the Nature of Leadership
Theories of leadership typically define power as the ability to
make another person do our bidding (i.e. power as control over
others).18 This conception of power in organisations, however, is
rooted in the assumption that it is the purpose (and right) of
managers to govern ‘employees’ in such a way that they
subordinate their interests to the organisation’s.
This chapter, however, illustrates the powerlessness that
occurs when one party exercises power unilaterally, rather than
bilaterally or through multi-party negotiations.
A unilateral
attempt to gain power removes power deeply embedded in a
relationship.
Usually no party benefits from the unilateral
exercise of power (over the long term), while bilateral or
multi-party decisions increase the power of all parties.
A relationship in which each party helps emancipate the other
from cultural constraints is particularly powerful and productive.
It then becomes spurious to talk of leaders and followers because
each leads and follows as the situation demands and the leader in
any particular context is determined by the situation.
Tony Watson summarises the outlook that underpins such an
approach to management:

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Productive cooperation…has to be striven for. It has to be
brought forth from the working out of the vast diversity of
projects being pursued by the various people in and around
the organisation…The variety of orientations…and the range
of expectations held by other stakeholders, means that the
productive cooperation which gives work organisations their
rationale is essentially problematic…
Human beings…will not be drawn together into the sort of
positive cooperative effort typically required by systems and
rules alone. To contribute initiative and give commitment…the
work needs to be made meaningful to people.19
I would go further and argue that people are bound together,
and driven apart, by emotional needs and desires. As discussed
in Chapter 3, the more equitable the exchanges, the more
attractive (seductive) each party appears to the other. It is this
process that draws parties together, while the opposite process
(unreciprocated behaviour, lack of engagement, unilaterial
withdrawal) that drives people apart.
These dynamics have implications for hierarchy development –
and the dynamics between leaders and followers. Leaders and
followers are drawn together when there are mutual emotional
(as well as economic) benefits, and driven apart when these
benefits disappear. This idea has been termed “emotional praxis”
– a process by which people make decisions by giving regard to
their emotional well-being.20 Given that emotions are an integral
component of all decision-making (see Chapter 2), it not
surprising we should find that people are guided by emotional
praxis.
In terms of leadership, the picture that emerges is that pairs
and groups of people try to control those perceived as a threat to
group life. In pursuit of this, they select the person best able to
ward off any threat and promote them as leader. Leadership is
not an individual process or quality. No leader stands in isolation
to others.
Within a relationship or group, one party usually develops a
public role (articulating concerns to those outside the relationship
or group) while others have private roles (articulating concerns
inside the relationship or group).
Men typically, but not
necessarily or automatically, have more influence in the public
domain. Women historically, but not necessarily or automatically,

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are more powerful in the private domain. In Chapters 6 and 7, I
will elaboarate this further.
While we may not talk about our intimate relationships
publicly, the emotions they arouse are stronger than other
relationships. For this reason, governance dynamics (both inside
and outside work) are responsive to hidden emotional needs,
even when not in evidence or the subject of discussion. In the
next chapter, the power of hidden emotions to affect governance
processes are discussed.

Summary
There are eight propositions from this chapter that I would like to
suggest to you:
• Power is rooted in relationships, not individual people.
• Leadership is the regular expression in the public domain
of matters taking place in the private domain.
• Leaders depend for their well-being, and derive their power
from, the way they activate the emotions of their followers.
• Followers depend for their well-being, and derive their
power from, the way they activate the emotions of their
leaders.
• Leaders are expected to take greater public responsibility
than followers for agreements made in private.
• Leaders are rewarded with a greater share of public
recognition than followers for private agreements.
• Leaders are more powerful in the public domain, but less
powerful in the private domain.
• Leaders lead in public matters, followers lead private
matters.
I have suggested that leadership and followership are far
more ambiguous – and interlinked – than conventional theories
suggest. Often, it is hard to establish whether the followers are
following the leader, or the leader is following the followers. The
above propositions provide some clarity about when and why this
occurs.

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In the next chapter, I examine sexual dynamics. When
courtship behaviours mutate into sexual conflict, a set of
double-standards are applied to men and women. The resolution
process is based on the public/private distinctions above. It is by
recognising the impact of this that we can begin to build a new
path towards workplace (and gender) equality. In particular,
there is a growing need to understand women’s power, rather
than men’s. When we better understand women’s power, and
how it is exercised, the gender debate starts to take on a
different complexion.
In particular, we end up asking the difficult question “do
women and men actually want equality?” If they do, how is this
understood and pursued? The different ways that men and
women conceive and pursue equality influences the outcome of
their efforts. It also generates the conflicts between them. To
find out why, come with me on the most controversial part of our
journey…

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Notes on Chapter 5
1

Molloy, J (2003) Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others,
Element.

2

Landers, A. (1976). Ann Landers survey was run in 1200 papers and
published in her syndicated column on January 23, 1976. Cited in
Farrell, W. (2001) Father and Child Reunion, Finch, p. 65

3

Friedan, B. (1963) The Feminine Mystique, Penguin Books.

4

Goldberg, H. (2000) The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving the Myth of
Masculine Privilege, Wellness Institute, Chapters 5 and 8.

5

Farrell, W. (2001) Father and Child Reunion, Sydney: Finch Publishing,
Chapter 4.

6

Provine, R. (2000) Laughter: a scientific investigation, Penguin.

7

Duberley, E. (2005), Brief Encounters: A Woman’s Guide to Casual
Sex, Fusion Press, p.135.

8

Provine, R. (2001) Laughter: A Scientific Investigation, Penguin Books,
p. 28.

9

Nuwer, H. (ed) (2004) The Hazing Reader, Indiana University Press.
See also Ackroyd, S., Thompson, P. (1999) Organizational
Misbehaviour, Sage Publications. Farrell, W. (2005) Why Men Earn
More, New York: Amacom.

10

Farrell, W. (1994) The Myth of Male Power, Bantam Books. In the
chapter on “The Politics of Sex”, the author explains how this leads to
a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situation for men much
more frequently than for women.

11

Vitalio, D. (2005) Recognising When You Are Pussy-Whipped, Internet
newsletter, 12th April, 2005.

12

Goleman, D. (1998) Emotional Intelligence, Bloomsbury. For
extended discussion of behaviour in all-female contexts, see Cairns, R.
B., Cairns, B. D. (1994) Lifelines and Risks, New York, Cambridge
University Press. For discussion of behaviour in all-male contexts see
Roy, D. (1960) “‘Banana time’ – job satisfaction and informal
interactions”, Human Organisation, 18(2), pp. 156-168.

13

John Hall, business adviser at the BBIC, South Yorkshire, mentored
me for several years. He once told me that most CEOs in public

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companies had one year to establish their reputation or they would be
sacked. Similarly, men who refused to fight in wartime have been
routinely killed or imprisoned by members their own society
throughout history. Women also shun them and give them white
feathers (a symbol of cowardice). For a powerful drama on the
unforgiving nature of organisations towards their leaders see ‘Darrow’
(2001), Arrow Films.
14

Farrell, W. (1994) The Myth of Male Power, Bantam Books.

15

Dworkin, A. (1976) Woman Hating, Dutton Books. See also Hearn, J.
and Parkin, W. (1987) Sex At Work: the power and paradox of
organisation sexuality, Wheatsheaf.

16

These were retrieved from the insolvency practitioners in 2004. Three
files existed; two on company setup that had correspondence on the
background and trading relationships used to establish the company;
one had human resource documents, interviews, letters, memos and
correspondence.

17

The knock on effects on their careers were established from personnel
records and interviews. Neil was unemployed for considerable lengths
of time after the company collapse. Eventually, he went back into
Higher Education to requalify for a new career. Pauline found a new
job and developed her career in marketing. Simon got a new job as a
project manager, but left for reasons unknown shortly afterwards.
Gayle developed a successful career as a manager. Andy successfully
entered academia.

18

French, J., Raven, B. (1958) “The bases of social power” in D.
Cartwright (ed), Studies in Social Power, Institute of Social Research,
Ann Arbor, MI. Lukes, S. (1974) Power: A Radical View, Macmillan
Education.

19

Watson, T. (1994) In Search of Management, Routledge, pp. 32-33.

20

Crossley, N. (1998) “Emotion and communicative action” in G.
Bendelow and S. J. Williams (eds) Emotions in Social Life, London:
Routelege.

Chapter 6 – Sexual Conflict
Introduction
In the previous chapter, we considered some of the subtle
processes that take place between leaders and followers. In the
workplace, these dynamics typically play out between
entrepreneurs and employees in small companies, or between
managers and team members in larger organisations. Our
dependence on leaders inclines us to see them as “dominant” –
those with control over resources and the power to decide our
future are “in control”. But we also discussed that leaders can
feel extremely vulnerable, that they have to put up with criticism
that deeply affects their emotions. Sometimes this builds up so
much that they resort to authoritarian behaviours in order to reestablish control over their feelings and stop others from
engaging in personal attacks.
It is our understanding of managers as “dominant” rather than
“powerless” that impacts on dispute resolution. When a manager
has power over a subordinate (or a temporary member of staff)
the courts typically take the view that it would be impossible for
the subordinate to cause the manager any distress because the
manager can discipline the subordinate. However, in this chapter
we will see that managers do sometimes accuse subordinates,
and when they do, the conflicts raise substantive questions about
the way we understand power and conflict.
The first half of this chapter is based on a case that occurred
after the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 came into force and the
women’s movement was in full flow. There are three small
changes that I have made to the story – these changes will be
revealed to you in due course and I withhold them initially
because they provide the starting point for discussions in the
second half of the chapter.
In the second half of the chapter, I review findings from
recent research to provide further insights into two other sexual
conflicts that touched me personally. By the end of the chapter,
you will have three contrasting perspectives: the views of

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someone from inside a sexual conflict; the views of a manager
investigating a sexual conflict; the views of an external
investigator trying to make sense of how managers handle sexual
conflict.
I am indebted to Amy, a co-researcher, who retained papers
and lent them to me to help with this chapter. The first story is
constructed from memos, contemporaneous notes and
reflections, letters to managers and solicitors and the responses
that these provoked. I clarified matters with Amy and she added
anecdotes to create a richer understanding of a relationship she
had with Mark. Amy is satisfied that it is a fair reflection of her
own understanding of the events that occurred.
The first draft was then sent to all parties in the dispute.
Some contributed comments and the chapter was updated to
reflect their views. No account of a dispute can be completely
balanced but every effort has been made to give all parties the
opportunity to comment. It is, therefore, balanced beyond a
reasonable doubt.
The correspondence has been edited to remove details of the
organisation’s work, as well as the technicalities of the project on
which Amy and Mark worked. This gives the impression that
Amy’s and Mark’s relationship was more informal that it actually
was. For ethical and legal reasons, true identities have been
obscured.

A Story of Sexual Conflict
Some years ago, Amy enrolled on a Masters course to study
business. Prior to this, she was an analyst in a multi-national
company working on mini-computer systems before leaving to
run a small company of her own. A decade later she could not
make this fit in with family life so she closed the company and
worked on a self-employed basis for her former clients. Married
for 16 years to Shaun, she found self-employment suited her and
gave her more flexibility. They had two children together, so
Amy reduced her work commitments to two days a week, and
cared for the children on the other days while undertaking a
course of study.
The following year, Amy’s academic studies were going well so
she transferred to a doctoral programme. She started a detailed
study of the link between feminist theory and changing business

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practice. When she met Mark two years later, she was writing up
her PhD. No longer doing field work, she took on a commitment
to develop a database system for him between June and October
of that year.
Mark was a middle manager with a public relations role at one
of the UK’s leading charities. He was college educated and had
found work in a multi-national company after obtaining his
degree. He developed his career there, but eventually opted to
head a marketing initiative. When he met Amy, he was in his
thirties, engaged to be married but had chosen to delay having
children. Amy was in her forties, but – according to her friends had aged well!
When Amy first met Mark, she felt an instant rapport. During
her research she had come across studies of body language that
interested her. All the signs of mutual admiration were in
evidence: strong unbroken eye contact and plenty of it; comfort
and ease at talking; positive aligned body posture; open gestures,
smiling and some willingness to speak about personal issues.
If Mark left the office before Amy, he would catch her eye and
wave to her on his way out. As a consultant, Amy liked to see
this kind of behaviour because it indicated that the initial rapport
was being maintained. In the past, such rapport underpinned
working relationships that had spanned over a decade so she
thought the signs were promising.
There was one aspect, however, that slightly unsettled her.
Mark liked to tease her. On the third occasion they met – the
first of many occasions when Amy had to stay overnight in a
hotel, Mark commented as they left a lift:
So, did you go out on the town last night?
It sounded like a challenge and Amy was not sure how to
respond. She slightly resented the implication that she was some
kind of “party girl” but politely explained that staying overnight
was not all it was cracked up to be. She usually read, watched
TV, or studied. Amy regarded herself – and was regarded by her
husband - as a confident but private person. She had become
supportive of the women’s movement for emancipation and
sought new ways to combine working life with parenthood.

Sexual Conflict

Many writers comment on the role of
humour and teasing during the
development of a relationship.
Derek Vitalio, a populist writer, argues
that playful teasing hurts a person’s ego
and that they often respond by trying to
impress the teaser. If the teaser
recognises their efforts (and stops
teasing), they enhance their
attractiveness by becoming a source of
emotional pleasure.
Academics, however, offer different
explanations. Dr Lillian Glass warns that
teasing is a sign of hostility, possibly
even past trauma, a view partially
supported by Dr Warren Farrell in his
discussion of ‘hazing’. However, he
points out that it also establishes how a
person will react if threatened. This is
normal behaviour for men – and
increasingly in women - in the
development of high trust relationships
expected to face future danger.
Professor Tony Watson looks at the issue
from the perspective of the teaser. His
explanation suggests that humour is a
good strategy for reducing fear – it
derives from a desire to protect against
emotional, financial or physical hurt.
My own study indicates that all may be
true in different contexts. Some
explanations apply in the early stages of
a relationship , where there may be a
lack of trust, but later in the process, it is
an invitation to consensual play that
enhances intimacy, physical closeness
and sexual pleasure.

169

The friendly and playful
nature of their working
relationship
is
apparent
immediately in their memos to
each other.
Hi Amy,
Enclosed is our full set of
admin procedures. There is a
lot (22 pages of them!)
….hopefully you will get a
chance to skim the relevant
sections before our next
meeting, either that or I am
sure it will be effective in
sending you to sleep on the
train….
Thanks, Mark
--Mark,
Procedures? Send me to
sleep? Lord forbid! My diary
is free on 20th July if that is a
possible date to have a first
look at the database structure.
Amy
At this time, the IRA were
setting off bombs at London
train stations and Amy’s
husband and children were
concerned that she should not
travel by public transport.

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Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Mark,
With the bomb threats in London, would it be possible to park
at your offices if I choose to drive down on Tuesday? My
family would feel a little more comfortable, I think, if I can avoid
using public transport.
Amy
x
Amy,
Quite understand, if I could work from home believe me I
would love to. Michelle has reserved a space for you. When
you arrive just check with reception.
See you around 11.30 ish.
Mark
They had a good meeting, and the humour continued.
Hi Mark,
I enclose the document we discussed, with revisions. I felt
everyone contributed well, and the intelligent comments
towards the end of the day indicated that everyone had
grasped aspects of the underlying design. The process of
design is quite intense, but over the years I’ve discovered that
it creates realistic expectations. Sometimes it is (almost)
interesting!!
Amy
x
--Amy,
Thanks. I like the bit about our intelligent comments!!! We will
all sit down and go through as it’s a lot to take in and try to
imagine how it will all work. I will be in touch before I go off on
hols and once the licensing issues have been resolved it is all
looking very promising.
Speak soon and have a good weekend,
Mark

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171

First Cause for Concern
Amy had given Mark her home number so they could discuss
issues when not in the office. In Amy’s notes, she recalls the
following:
Mark was calling me at home quite a bit – much more than
any other client. The impression I got was that he was calling
me more than he needed to, and it struck me at the time how
often he seemed to chat about little things that did not seem
important, or which we had already covered in meetings.
Then I received the following memo:
Hi Amy,
I have tried to call you but you are obviously skiving on this
Friday afternoon!! I just wanted to talk through stuff for next
week so I will try to summarise….
….Although I am on annual leave I am not flying off anywhere
exotic so if you need to get in touch with me please do, as I
would much rather things go smoothly now - the sooner it is
set up the better. Sophie has my home number if you need to
get in touch and as I bask in the garden I will try to help!!
Phew think that’s it – have fun now!!
Amy looked after her children on Fridays and found the
“skiving” remark a bit disrespectful. The last paragraph also
seemed a bit over-familiar, particularly the “bask in the garden”
phrase that reinforced comments Mark had made in the office
that he would be sunbathing. She also wondered if Mark was
trying to give her his home phone number. Amy liked Mark and
taken together, she felt flattered by the attention he was giving
her. Nevertheless, she felt she should be positive but cautious
and decided to respond to his comments with good humour.
Mark,
Skiving? Me? As a researcher / consultant / mother, I keep
very abnormal hours and frequently take days off to
compensate for the 16 hour ones when I travel around.

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Enjoy basking in the garden and I definitely look forward to
seeing a bronzed version of your good self the following week.
Best wishes
Amy
x
Mark’s behaviour played on Amy’s mind, and she wondered if
Mark was developing an attraction to her. After a series of
messages exchanging technical information, she tested the water
by asking him “did you get a good tan basking in the sun?” Mark
seemed to cool off a bit, so Amy carried on corresponding
without making any further references to his holiday.
The next time Amy visited, however, Mark playfully asked Amy
to make him a cup of tea. Amy, probably because of age, skills
and qualifications, was usually treated as a guest by clients – it
was rare she was asked to make tea or coffee. However, she
obliged and decided to accept the norms within the team.

Banter Over Lunch
Amy normally took lunch with her clients – it was an unwritten
assumption that she and they would get to know each other
informally. Mark, however, had not engaged her outside the
office even though his memos were usually upbeat.
This
surprised Amy because she had worked for Mark’s organisation
for 9 years (on and off) and the norm with other staff was that
either they or she would initiate lunch. Thereafter the norm was
that each would take turns to pay. Amy, wondering if Mark was
a bit shy, took the initiative and offered to take both Mark and his
assistant Sophie to lunch early in September.
Amy wanted to raise the equality issues so in her next letter
she wrote:
Look forward to seeing you in September, producing a quality
system, and practising gender awareness by smiling a lot
while making you cups of tea and coffee! Do male managers
take their commitment to equal opportunity sufficiency
seriously to overcome their shyness and take female
friends/colleagues out to lunch? Definitely hope so.
Will come back from holiday reinvigorated, ready to work hard,
and looking healthier than I feel (!!)

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173

When I interviewed Amy, she said that she was attempting to
make a serious point by poking fun at the gender issues of tea
making and paying for lunch – each had to work both ways. The
next time Amy visited, Mark suggested meeting after work to
exchange information about the project. In light of his earlier
comments, Amy was not completely comfortable with this. A
working lunch was one thing, but meeting after work was quite
another, so she politely declined and said she would return to the
office if she had time.
It is worth noting at this point that the behaviour is similar to
Ben and Hayley (Chapter 3) and not dissimilar to my own
behaviour towards John. Both parties intersperse caution with
complimentary remarks (or behaviours) to test the others’
response and make efforts to supplement their formal
relationship with safe opportunities for informal contact.
After the lunch with Mark and Sophie. Amy wrote:
I let Mark choose and he took us to an Italian restaurant. It
was a lot more expensive than the places I usually went with
other members of staff, but as I had offered I felt I should
honour the promise. The bill came to much more than I
usually pay. At the end of the meal, he asked me if it was
okay for me to pay. I said it was okay because he could pay
next time. There was not a ‘next time’ however, even though I
hinted playfully two or three times.
Mark dressed completely differently on this day. Gone was
the suit and tie – he was dressed in jeans and a black
short-sleeve shirt which was undone at the neck. I remember
thinking that he would not have looked out of place in a nightclub. I nearly said something but thought it may be taken the
wrong way.
Lunch was full of banter – some of it about my work on gender
issues. We discussed a novel I was writing about a
false-allegation of sexual harassment. Mark asked if I had
found anyone to read it, and I said I had. Our arms touched
once in the restaurant and I remember the sexual tension.
Back at the office the sexual tension continued. At one point,
he put his hand on my shoulder (I was working with my back
towards him). I felt this was familiar and a sign that he was
attracted to me. He leant towards me and I could see his
muscular chest. It had an impact on me but I did not say
anything or respond in any way.

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In the memos that followed the lunch, the good humour
returns and they joke about the pressures of the project as well
as Amy’s enjoyment watching the Ashes cricket series. Amy
admits that she sent a slightly flirty memo, one that challenged
Mark to return lunch, by asking:
If I smile sweetly when I bring you a cup of tea, and flutter my
eyelashes at you, I wonder if you’ll take me to lunch?
Mark, however, did not respond leaving Amy feeling
somewhat exploited. However, as the project was going well she
decided to take a ‘live and let live’ approach and resolved not to
raise the issue until the project was complete, nor to suggest
lunch without first tackling Mark over taking turns to pay.
Amy wrote a long letter about the project progress and Mark
responded by joking about her typing skills. As Amy explained:
Mark,
For my sins I learnt to touch type when I was younger. Did it
make sense to you?
Things will look as if they’ve moved on rapidly next week – but
the development may unravel when we test it!! Hope the
process is not too frustrating in the short term – it will pay
dividends in the longer term, I promise (famous last words….).
Not sure whether you were showing genuine interest in
reading the novel I’ve written, but thought you could read the
short synopsis and let me know if it interests you.
Bit nervous about you reading it, given we have a professional
working relationship to protect. If you are interested, I would
be interested in your feedback (target market is definitely
professional men), but I would feel more comfortable after the
project is complete! On reading, your opinion of me might
change dramatically (for better or worse!) and I would not want
that to interfere with our working relationship.
Amy
x

The End Game
The remainder of the project went smoothly – the humour, while
slightly more cautious, is still evident in the correspondence.
Mark did not respond to Amy’s novel synopsis so she felt she had

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175

probably misjudged his interest and busied herself with
completing her work.
During her penultimate visit, Amy noticed that Mark was
particularly sensitive when she suggested that Sophie may like
working with him.
She apologised for any “inappropriate”
remarks and protected his ego by implying he was good
company. Mark became more friendly again and started offering
to make her coffee each morning. Over the last few weeks, Amy
felt things went well.
Mark’s confidence seemed to return. He chatted about his
home life a bit and started to tease Amy again – this time that
she must be stealing papers from his desk because he could not
find them. Amy parried by saying:
Do I not have a trustworthy face?
After this, the correspondence remains formal but friendly.
Amy wrote to finalise outstanding project issues and advise Mark
on budgets for future work. As the project was ending – not
withstanding her earlier feelings - she suggested a departmental
lunch or drink after work to celebrate a successful outcome.
Lastly, she asked Mark to formally accept the system so that she
could submit her final invoice. In Mark’s final memo to Amy, he
accepts these suggestions and signs off the system:
Hi Amy,
Thanks for this – reassuring to know we won’t have huge fees
coming out of our very tight budgets. Yes, I agree the system
is now live. I will arrange an end of project meeting when you
come in to sort out the final updates.
Thanks Amy and speak soon.
With the project ending, Amy relaxed. She reflected on things
and felt a need to resolve tensions that had emerged. Despite
some irritating habits, Amy had grown quite fond of Mark. At the
same time, the gender equality issues bothered her because she
felt they were preventing the informal engagement necessary for
a better working relationship. While wishing to communicate that
she admired him, she wanted to raise the way he sometimes
made disrespectful comments. Secondly, she wanted to extend
the hand of friendship but set boundaries that would stop him
thinking she sought a romance. This was her attempt:

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Mark,
It has been very enjoyable working with you, and I look
forward to a productive relationship for as long as we continue
to work for the organisation. It is particularly pleasant working
with someone who is intelligent, attractive and competent.
Deadly combination that inspires me to give my best (pathetic
female that I am).
I still, however, can’t work out if your organisation only runs
half a course in gender-equality or whether you are too shy to
know me socially. As for me, I have a strong marriage and we
allow each other to enjoy friendships with both men and
women. Funnily enough, he prefers female friends while I
prefer men friends. I can’t think why – I guess we need to go
on one of those gender-awareness courses so we can start to
understand.
Oh well, back to the hum-drum of work. I’m in another
department on Tuesday (1st), just need to know whether to
book a hotel.
All the best
Amy
x
At this point, consider how you would handle this situation if
either Amy or Mark came to you as a manager. How you would
answer if Mark came to you saying he found the above letter
offensive? How would you advise Amy if she raised Mark’s
behaviour over the course of the project? Do you feel that either
Mark or Amy have behaved unprofessionally? Write down your
thoughts then we can compare your notes with what happened
next.

Management Intervention
On 4th November, Jerry, the head of the IT department, called
Amy and told her that Mark had complained that she had been
“unprofessional”. Without seeking Amy’s opinion, informing her
of the nature of the allegation, or giving her a chance to respond,
she was informed that after 9 years her contract was being
terminated.
She was asked to return all equipment and
information in her possession, and not to visit the site again. In

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particular, she was asked not to contact Mark who was
“distressed” by her behaviour.
Amy thought there must be some mistake and asked for time
to respond. She went home and wondered whether to talk to her
husband, Shaun. The client was important – a considerable part
of their family income came from working for them so Amy was
concerned on several fronts. She decided to confide in Shaun
and the children what had happened.
In replying to Jerry, Amy’s first reaction was to apologise then
ask for mediation to resolve the difficulties.
Jerry,
Thank you for your call today, and I appreciated it being you
who broke the news. I would be grateful if you could forward
this memo to your CEO and the head of HR, and any other
party who needs to know. If they feel it is appropriate for Mark
to see a copy, I would have no objection.
Firstly, I would like to apologise for any distress my behaviour
has caused. Secondly, I would like to request immediate
mediation between myself and Mark next Tuesday….
The letter was quite long and made a number of points.
• That Amy needed time to think and reflect on the
correspondence between herself and Mark.
• That terminating the contract would impact on all parties
badly.
• That it “is not reasonable or fair to terminate contracts
without hearing both sides of a story…”
• That her intention was to “create a light-hearted
atmosphere in which a relaxed, thriving, productive
relationship could develop.”
• That she had studied workplace culture and was aware of
the “tensions and ambiguities that exist between men and
women at work.”
• That, from Amy’s perspective she was “responding to
aspects of Mark’s behaviour and trying to deal with the
ambiguities that arose.”

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• That at no time did Mark show any distress at her
behaviour or ask her to stop.
• That she had “acted appropriately and professionally
during all visits”, particularly when alone with Mark.
• That the first thing Mark had done on her previous two
visits was invite her to have a coffee with him and engage
in informal chat about their home life.
Drawing in no small part on what she had learnt from her
studies, she concluded the letter as follows:
Speaking only for myself, I feel it is only when we are honest
that others have a chance to express their own feelings to
establish a respectful relationship. I waited until work was
largely completed before attempting to deal with the tensions
that arose after we had lunch together. If, in your opinion, this
is unprofessional and unacceptable, I can modify my
behaviour for the future and seek an opportunity to do so.
She repeated her request for mediation so that a solution that
would “benefit all parties” could be found. The following week
she summarised the relationship to Jerry as follows:
I wish to assert clearly and unambiguously that I was not
seeking a “sexual relationship”. I was seeking the kind of
relationship I have with Louise, Brian and yourself. Earlier
correspondence has to be understood in the light of Mark’s
behaviour towards me by phone, in memos and the office. He
teased me playfully quite a few times and my messages are
playful responses to these. There were occasions when he
invaded my private space, by touching me for example, and it
is reasonable therefore to assume that he was comfortable
with a fairly close working relationship. My comment about his
tan – if he has shown this to you – is a response to his own
message telling me he would be sun-bathing on holiday. I felt
any sexual banter was two-way, although I may have
misunderstood him at times.
In this letter, Amy offered ways for the organisation to verify
her account – by talking to other members of staff within Mark’s
department. Jerry spoke to Amy again and she once more urged
him to arrange mediation. Later that week, however, Amy
received the following from Jerry:

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Thank you for your recent detailed correspondence. The
issues you raised have been considered at senior level within
the organisation. I am afraid, having reflected on the points
raised, that we do not feel that mediation is either appropriate
or desirable in this situation. We genuinely feel that it is in the
best interests of all parties concerned, including yourself, that
this matter now be closed and that no further correspondence
be sent by you to us on this matter. We trust you will
understand our position on this matter and will respect our
decision. Please rest assured that this matter will remain
confidential amongst the parties involved to date.
Amy was gutted and discussed the issues with Shaun. After a
few days, they started rowing about the situation because Shaun
believed that Amy must have sexually harassed Mark. Amy gave
all her correspondence to Shaun to satisfy him. He read it, but
felt “there must be something more”. Getting sacked indicated
some kind of gross misconduct, but Shaun could not see any.
Rows continued to break out periodically because Amy felt Shaun
was not giving her support, while Shaun felt Amy must be hiding
something. Over time, things improved, but their marriage was
disrupted.
Right! Second chance for you to grab a pen and paper and make
some notes about your views. Imagine you are a lawyer,
manager or HR professional. You need to give legal advice to
your directors and personal advice to Mark and Amy on the
implications of this situation. Do you think that Amy or Mark
have a case for sex discrimination? Perhaps you think both got
what they deserved and neither have a case? Perhaps you think
one party is more to blame than the other? Write down the
advice you would give to Amy and Mark, then write the advice
you would give to your board of directors.

Obtaining Legal Advice
Amy – as a former Chief Executive – had experience of
investigating sexual harassment cases.
Once, she sought
professional advice during a difficult dispute. An expert in the
resolution of gender-conflicts confirmed that a manager, or
management group, can only protect both men and women if
they investigate both party’s claims properly. Moreover, this was

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an employer’s obligation under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975
because it deterred both harassment (women’s main concern)
and false claims (men’s main concern) by creating a culture in
which all employees would understand that sexual claims would
be subject to scrutiny.
Amy, therefore, wrote out the case she thought she had:
• Mark’s distress might have been caused either by offence
at her memo or feelings of rejection when she mentioned
her “strong marriage”.
• Amy herself was as distressed as Mark, had lost weight and
suffered successive sleepless nights. The organisation had
to treat her claims in the same way as Mark’s or it would
be de facto sex discrimination.
• Amy had offered the organisation a way to check her
account, but they had not done so. She had documentary
evidence from a person inside the organisation that they
had not checked her explanation.
• Amy argued that Mark’s employer could not establish who
was doing the harassing (if any) and who being victimised
(if any) without considering and verifying both accounts of
the relationship.
• Amy argued that the decision to terminate the contracts
without any face-to-face discussion or mediation amounted
to protecting Mark and victimising her – a breach of the
Sex Discrimination Act 1975.
Okay. Do you have your advice at the ready?
compare it to the advice that Amy received.

Let’s now

The Legal Position
Amy approached a local company of solicitors. Lester Black, the
solicitor assigned to consider her claim, advised Amy that she had
a weak case. Although he recognised that Mark had initiated a
change of tone by saying he would ‘bask in the garden’ on
holiday, and that Amy had quite reasonably asked for mediation,
as a self-employed person she could not claim unfair dismissal.
As for defamation, Mark had not made a statement that Amy
could prove was untrue. Lastly, Amy would struggle to win a
case for sex discrimination because she had not told Mark he was

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in breach of the Sex Discrimination Act. Moreover, Lester
commented that a tribunal would most likely regard her
attempted humour over payment for lunch as an attempt to flirt
or form a relationship, rather than an attempt to raise the issue
of gender inequality.
Amy was disappointed that the solicitor did not seem to
understand her perspectives but took the advice on board and
wrote to the CEO of Mark’s organisation claiming they had
breached the requirements of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 by
failing to investigate her claims properly. She then repeated her
request for mediation and received the following response:
I am afraid I have nothing to add to the decision already
communicated to you and would reiterate that we now see this
matter as closed. We would ask you return any property
including data, should you have it.
I would once again ask that you respect our decision in this
and that we receive no further letters on this matter from you.
Amy decided – after considerable reflection – not to treat the
matter as “closed.” She wrote to Mark asking him to support
mediation, then back to the CEO, and also the Board of Directors.
She also informed the Head of Human Resources and asked for
mediation. In response, she got a solicitor’s letter that “strongly
recommended” she desist from sending any more letters.
So Amy contacted a women’s rights organisation to obtain the
name of a more sympathetic solicitor. She also found out that
Mark’s employer published a booklet recommending mediation in
disputes. Surely their behaviour was incongruent with the advice
they gave to others? She contacted the second solicitor and sent
all her papers.
Kevin Yates, the second solicitor, made several points in
response:
• Given the evidence, he would not differ from Lester Black’s
advice.
• He disagreed with Lester Black that the “bask in the
garden” comment initiated the change of tone in the
relationship.
• Amy would struggle on the evidence to persuade a tribunal
that Mark initiated or welcomed her comments.

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• Amy’s mention of Mark’s change of clothing for the day of
their lunch would not assist her case.
In addition to these comments, Kevin added that he did not
think the kind of banter Amy and Mark had was inevitable, or
welcome, as a way of developing relationships between men and
women at work. As he was running a business, he had to weigh
up the likely costs involved and could not take on a no-win,
no-fee basis any case where he was not confident of success. In
short, Kevin Yates agreed with Lester Black that Amy’s case was
weak.
Amy felt the solicitor’s comment that the relationship had an
“inappropriate tone” and “would disagree….that this kind of
banter is inevitable” impossible to sustain after her 3 year study
of workplace culture. Not only was sexual banter and behaviour
rife in sales work, marketing strategies, corporate events (internal
as well as external), it permeated office relations and working
life, although the impacts were denied (or ignored) in
organisations concerned about their image.
The issue for Amy was not whether or not banter should be
stopped but how we choose to respond to it when it occurs.
Although she felt she did not habitually flirt at work, if a man
gave her attention, or teased her, she had to choose how to
respond. She chose to be constructive and find emotionally
honest ways of preserving relationships.
The solicitor’s position on “appropriate” behaviour was a moral
argument, and could be adopted as a management policy, but
neither were sustainable in light of the many studies that Amy
had reviewed and conducted. Even though Amy informed both
solicitors that she held a doctorate on gender dynamics in the
workplace, neither solicitor acknowledged or enquired how Amy’s
expert status in the field might help build her case. This added to
Amy’s feeling that she, as well as her knowledge, was being
disrespected and demeaned.

Discussion
In your opinion, did the outcome of this case amount to sexual
harassment (or discrimination) by either Mark or Amy against the
other? Was your advice to Amy or Mark that they should drop
the issue, learn the lessons, and “move on”?

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Do you think Amy might have a case against the solicitors for
misadvice? Why did they not tell her to make a formal complaint
to the organisation’s trustees/directors? Why was she not told by
either solicitor that – as a self-employed worker – she was still an
employee under the Sex Discrimination Act and entitled to equal
treatment? Why did they not inform her that she could obtain
vital information the other party was withholding using the Sex
Discrimination Act? Why did they not inform her that she could
bring a claim at an Employment Tribunal without legal
representation and that it would cost her nothing to do so?
Were the solicitors acting in Amy’s best interests, or Mark’s?
As we reviewed earlier, a range of studies have estimated that
somewhere between 40-70% of men and women meet their
long-term partners in a workplace setting. Many more have
aspirations to do so and attempt (without success) to form a
successful relationship at work. In organisations concerned with
professionalism, or public appearances, workplace relationships
are conducted covertly rather than openly, but occur all the
same1. We also noted that different studies put the frequency of
initiation by women between 65-90%.
When I showed Amy’s and Mark’s correspondence to a
consultant with 30 years experience of gender issues, she felt
that one possible reason for Mark’s distress was that he had
developed strong feelings for Amy, and the latter’s mention of her
“strong marriage” took away Mark’s hopes for a closer
relationship. Amy felt happily married. Mark was ‘engaged’ but
had not yet set a date for the wedding or started a family. Did
he have doubts about his own relationship? Amy had her
children and enjoyed parenthood. What were Mark’s views and
aspirations?
These questions, and their impacts on Amy’s and Mark’s
relationship, are unclear. They may or may not have impacted on
their attitude to each other. If he felt rejected, Mark may have
selectively reconstructed Amy’s responses, characterised her
behaviour as “unprofessional” in order to transfer responsibility
for feelings of hurt. He may not have intended that his complaint
result in Amy’s sacking - perhaps he just wanted to make a point
and stop her flirting with him. His distress might have been
genuine, but the reason for it is open to question, particularly
given his behaviour immediately before making a complaint. I
leave you to consider whether his alleged distress was caused by

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Amy’s memo or whether it was an outcome of feelings of
rejection.
As a manager, how would you handle this situation? Would you
have sacked Amy? Or would you have sacked Mark? Would you
have offered both support independently? Or would you have
insisted on mediation? Add your answer to those you made
earlier.

The Impact of the Women’s Movement
It is a testament to the strength of the women’s movement that
stories like the above are extremely rare today. It is hard to
imagine that in 2005, a woman in Amy’s position would have
been unable to persuade Mark, and his employers, to mediate
and reach an equitable resolution. Women may still be subject to
various forms of discrimination, but termination of a contract for
paying someone a compliment is highly improbable today.2
Earlier, I mentioned that the story had been altered in three
respects to generate further debate. It is now time to reveal
what was changed. Firstly, this is not a story from the past – it
took place between June 2005 and December 2005 – a few
details were amended to maintain the fiction (e.g. IRA bombings
rather than anti-Iraq war bombings, memos not emails). The
behaviour characteristics of men and women 30 years ago are
alive and kicking in our society. On the basis of this story, it is
still hard for people to get organisations to mediate gender
conflicts in a way that leads to an equitable outcome.
The second alteration is the gender of all the main characters.
Mark’s true identity is Sarah3, a middle manager at the
International Council for Social Economy (ICSE). The solicitor
Lester Black was, in fact, a woman called Leanne. The solicitor
Kevin Yates was, in fact, a woman called Karen, a solicitor
recommended by a men’s web-site. Lastly, Amy’s real identity is
Rory Ridley-Duff – yes, it’s me! How far did you read before you
guessed?
Now you realise that the gender of all the main characters is the
reverse of your earlier assumption, does this change any of the
advice you were prepared to give? How do you now regard the
actions of senior managers and the advice of the solicitors?

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Confronting the Double-Standard
At the start of the chapter, I said that I would play with your
emotions for a good reason. I trust that, at this moment, you are
a little shocked or surprised but that no permanent damage will
be done! If you need a moment to recover, by all means make
yourself a cup of tea – I can wait a few minutes for you to get
your bearings.
This book is about how to learn from our emotions. Consider
yours at this very second. How angry were you at the behaviour
of Mark and Amy? Did you feel Amy was using Mark for sport?
Did you feel Mark was behaving like a male chauvinist? Would
you have felt the same way if you had known that Mark was
actually Sarah, and Amy was actually me?
How angry were you at Mark for making Amy pay for lunch,
and accusing Amy of “unprofessional” behaviour? Would you
have leapt to her defence? If so, will you now understand men
who feel exploited when people take advantage of their position
or wealth?
Will you defend them against accusations of
“unprofessional” behaviour with equal vigour?
Were you angry at Amy? Do you feel that she was ‘playing’
with Mark’s feelings? Now that you know Amy was a man, will
you be more forgiving of women who hurt men’s feelings and
trigger their anger when an offer of professional friendship is
mistaken for a sexual advance?
Talking to my wife, Caroline, about her reactions to the story
was revealing. As we drove home from her workplace, she told
me how angry she felt at Mark making Amy pay for lunch and
then not returning the favour. “It was just not on,” she said, “he
was behaving like a gigolo, exploiting her – it was almost
harassing”. She squeezed my hand as I drove because prior to
this she thought my upset over the lunch was at best a “fuss over
nothing”, at worst a feeble attempt to flirt. Now she understood
why I felt sexually exploited and angry at the hypocrisy of the
allegation.
My own reactions taught me something too. Firstly, Mark
comes across not only as hard working and career-oriented, but
also slightly bitter (about having to work) as well as disrespectful
to an experienced consultant. It made me look at Sarah in a new
way – that perhaps she had not deserved my goodwill. Amy, on
the other hand came across as more flirty than I expected. It

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made me realise how my behaviour – because I had not been
clear about my reasons for it – could be misinterpreted as
unprofessional.
The gender switch, therefore, suggests that “male chauvinist”
and “female submissive” behaviour is nothing to do with being a
man or woman – it derives from the responsibilities and powers
that come with managing people for a living. Through Amy, I
came to understand that flirting can be a strategy for responding
to disrespectful behaviour, a way of regaining self-respect after
feeling slightly humiliated by someone you like, a way to take
control rather than a desire to attract. It is easier, of course, if
the person you are “answering back” is desirable to you, but I
started to see how flirting can also be defensive rather than
offensive behaviour (in both senses of the word).
Each can learn from the other and if this story reveals
anything, it is the hollowness of certain radical feminists who
claim men are the enemy, as well as radical masculists who claim
that women are feminazis. Both sexes can be hurt – neither has
a monopoly on feeling powerless – and each exercises the power
at their disposal to regain self-respect after an upset. As Warren
Farrell so aptly wrote:
There are many ways in which a woman experiences a
greater sense of powerlessness than her male counterpart:
the fears of pregnancy, aging, rape, date rape, and being
physically overpowered; less socialization to take a career that
pays enough to support a husband and children; less
exposure to team sports and its blend of competitiveness and
cooperation that is so helpful to career preparation; greater
parental pressure to marry and interrupt career for children
without regard to her own wishes; not being part of an ‘old
boys’ network’; having less freedom to walk into a bar without
being bothered….
Fortunately, almost all industrialized nations have
acknowledged these female experiences. Men, though, have
a different experience. A man who has seen his marriage
become alimony payments, his home become his wife’s home,
and his children become child-support payments for those who
have been turned against him psychologically feels he is
spending his life working for people who hate him. When a
man tries to keep up with payments by working overtime and
is told he is insensitive, or tries to handle the stress by drinking
and is told he is a drunkard, he doesn’t feel powerful, but

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powerless. When he hears a cry for help will be met with ‘stop
whining’, or that a plea to be heard will be met with ‘yes, buts’,
he skips past attempting suicide and just commits suicide.4
At the end of 2005, the Samaritans web-site claimed there
were four suicides by men for each suicide by a woman. The
Office of National Statistics reports a slightly narrower difference
in 2000, but the biggest shock comes from seeing the trend.
United Kingdom Male Suicides v Female Suicides (1974 - 2000)
Source: Office of National Statistics
250%
200%
150%
100%
50%

2000

1999

1998

1997

1996

1995

1994

1993

1992

1991

1990

1989

1988

1987

1986

1985

1984

1983

1982

1981

1980

1979

1978

1977

1976

1975

1974

0%

The above graph shows how much more men have committed
suicide than women since the introduction of sexual equality
legislation. The Samaritans data indicates that the line has
continued to climb upwards to 300% over the last 5 years.
Coming to terms with the double-standards applied to men
and women is hard – and deeply emotional. Our assumptions
about their differences are so firmly rooted that it sometimes
takes a major shock – or series of insights beyond the norm – to
come to terms with it.
Some well-known gender researchers have written about the
way they confronted their own prejudice. Some openly describe
how they realised they were blaming men and women while
praising or defending the other sex for exactly the same
behaviour. One of the most honest writers is Nancy Friday. Her
books of men’s and women’s collected fantasies remain popular
to this day. For me, however, the most moving part is the
introduction to her book on men. She describes how she came to
terms with the double-standard when she started to receive
men’s fantasies and reacted to them with horror. Initially, she
regarded them as depraved but as time passed she became self-

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aware of the reason for her horror. She confesses – in quite
poignant terms – that it was simply that the accounts had been
When she received similar
written by men, not women.
“depraved” fantasies from women, she wrote back praising and
applauding their “liberation” and “emancipation”.
When men’s and women’s fantasies are put side by side, it is
hard to tell which are men’s and which are women’s. This forces
people to confront their own double-standard and accept that
men love (and desire) women as much as women love (and
desire) men. After confronting her own prejudice, Nancy Friday
began to think that men love women more than women love
men.
It is not only women who make this journey. Warren Farrell,
had a similar tale to tell:
Then one day (in one of those rare moments of internal
security) I asked myself whether whatever impact I might have
had was a positive one; I wondered if the reason so many
more women than men listened to me was because I had
been listening to women but not listening to men. I reviewed
some of the tapes from amongst the hundreds of women’s and
men’s groups I had started. I heard myself. When women
criticized men, I called it “insight”, “assertiveness”, “women’s
liberation”, “independence”, or “high self-esteem.” When men
criticized women, I called it “sexism”, “male chauvinism”,
“defensiveness”, “rationalizing”, and “backlash.”. I did it
politely – but the men got the point. Soon the men were no
longer expressing their feelings. Then I criticized the men for
not expressing their feelings! 5
Both Nancy Friday and Warren Farrell went on a journey that
few people take. As a result, they started writing for both sexes
and began exploring how each loves “the other” while
simultaneously drawing attention to the inequities faced by their
own sex. Their insights started to reveal the double-standard,
and as Warren Farrell went public it had a profound impact on his
life:
Almost overnight my standing ovations disintegrated. After
each speaking engagement, I was no longer receiving three or
four new requests to speak. My financial security was drying
up. I would not be honest if I denied that this tempted me to
return to being a spokesperson only for women’s perspectives.
I liked writing, speaking and doing television shows. Now it

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seemed that all three were in jeopardy. I quickly discovered it
took far more internal security to speak on behalf of men than
to speak on behalf of women. Or, more accurately, to speak
on behalf of both sexes rather than on behalf of only women.6
The hostility meted out to women who ‘switched sides’ was
even more extreme. Esther Vilar wrote a book called The
Manipulated Man:
The determination with which those women portrayed us as
victims of men not only seemed humiliating but also
unrealistic. If someone should want to change the destiny of
our sex – a wish I had then as I have today – then that
someone should attempt to do so with more honesty. And
possibly also with a little humour.
People ask me if I would write this book again. Well, I find it
right and proper to have done so. But seen from today’s
perspective, my courage in those days may only be
attributable to a lack of imagination. Despite all I wrote, I could
not really imagine the power I was up against….As absurd as
it sounds, today’s men need feminists much more than their
wives do.7
Esther Vilar received death threats for exposing the ways that
women manipulate men and only her position as an academic
prevented her financial security being threatened in same way as
Warren Farrell’s. Her book is provocative, and certainly my wife
Caroline found parts of it offensive. The argument Esther makes,
however, is that any intelligent person – drawing only on what
can be observed in life – could make an equally convincing case
that women rule and men are life’s victims. She makes that case
and it is clear from book reviews by readers on Amazon that
many men agree with her wholeheartedly (but not me, at least
not totally!)
I found the book outrageous – at times I sucked my teeth at
the boldness of her satire – but I confess that it struck an
alarming number of chords and came shockingly close to the
“truth” (from a man’s perspective).
As a consequence of
reactions to the book, Esther claims that she has now joined up
with “feminists who are talking about men as human beings”.
And women too, I hope.
Esther Vilar, Nancy Friday and Warren Farrell – these three
writers who you may or may not have heard of – have travelled a

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journey that many others are now travelling, including myself and
Poonam Thapa (this book’s editor). My own journey started in
1994 when I was elected to lead an investigation into sexual
harassment. Let me tell you a bit about that.

The Double-Standard – A Personal Journey
My views changed after a female colleague, Mary, resigned from
our company and accused a work colleague, Brian, of sexual
harassment. I was a director of the company and the law obliged
us to investigate. My co-investigator - a women called Alison –
was also elected by colleagues to investigate on the basis that we
were in the best position to be fair to both parties. Here is how
we reflected on the double-standard in 1994 when investigating
this claim.
We did believe Brian was a harasser and therefore we did
terminate his employment. However, the grounds were very
thin as there was only one incident relating to the original
accusation that held up under our standard of evidence. Even
then, we felt instinctively uncomfortable dismissing him for
what we felt was an infatuation with a woman who had as her
starting point that 'all men are potential rapists'. Mary seemed
to interpret mild behaviour as very threatening and we did feel
that she over-reacted to Brian’s attention. However, we felt
bound by our own rules of evidence and were influenced by
the fact that we'd uncovered a pattern of harassment. Mary
did feel harassed and that was the issue in law.
The accusation in this case was not that Brian had touched
her, tried to kiss, make a pass or grope her, made obscene
comments, sent sexual messages, or anything of this kind. The
accusation was that he had waited outside work for Mary because
he wanted to walk with her to the station. Mary did not want to
walk with him – she had waited inside the office to avoid him.
According to her testimony, she saw him waiting outside the
office and ignored him. He then “walked past” quickly in a way
that frightened her then “hung around” at the station. Mary felt
intimidated and rang the office in a distressed state. This call, as
reported by her work colleague, corroborated that Mary felt
genuinely harassed.
At the time, however, Mary was having a workplace affair with
Julian, a founder of the business. He was involved with another

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woman outside work – a person he had been involved with for
most of his adult life. As a result Julian would not commit to
Mary and eventually their relationship broke down.
To add to the complexity of the situation, Mary was receiving
silent calls at home. She believed the two incidents were
connected and that these calls were from Brian. There was no
evidence presented to us that they were linked but their
occurrence did influence us. With more experience, however, we
might have considered whether the calls were coming from
Julian’s life-long partner (Mary’s rival in love). She would have
access to Julian’s address book and could have obtained Mary’s
phone number. She had a much stronger motive to harass Mary
than Brian.
It is only with greater experience of how rejected or
threatened people behave, plus a chance conversation with
Caroline during which she suggested Mary might have been
trying to induce Julian to show commitment, that I later
considered this alternative explanation. Had we considered this
at the time, Brian might have kept his job.
Either way, this incident resulted in Mary “freaking out”. Brian
would not co-operate with the investigation and we took the view
that this did not help his case. However, just as happened in the
case of Amy and Mark, Mary admitted that she had never said
directly to Brian that his attention was unwelcome and we felt
that it was unreasonable to terminate his contract on this basis.
The investigation was an extraordinary learning experience for
those of us involved and only reports that Brian also harassed
other people in the workplace (both men and women) finally
convinced us that we should recommend terminating his contract.
When we reported back our findings to the board of directors,
however, we underwent a second learning experience:
We tried to raise the issues that we'd uncovered and got
nowhere very quickly. My co-investigator left the company
shortly afterward - I think her decision was linked to what she
learned during the investigation. When the (other) women
were uninterested or argumentative about some of our
conclusions we felt they were acting as a group from an
ideological position. We’d done our job (got rid of Brian) and
now we should shut up and not rock the boat, particularly if our
views challenged a feminist orthodoxy. I ended up feeling
used, particularly by the women in the company, and for the

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first time saw what a powerful caucus they had created. Later
incidents confirmed my view that if there was institutional
sexism it was practiced more by the women than by the men.
After the dispute, I began to take more interest in books that
presented different perspectives on gender issues based on men’s
experiences of women. It took me a decade to complete my own
journey but eventually I was forced to fully confront the
double-standards as a result of what I witnessed during field
work for my doctorate.

From Personal to Professional
The completion of that journey occurred in 2003 – two years
before the conflict with Sarah. A temporary worker called Phil
was disciplined for comments he made about women’s
attractiveness. I decided to follow this up by talking to Diane, the
human resources manager.
I found that Phil had been talking to a female friend who was
showing him her tan marks after sunbathing in the garden. In
fact, a number of women in the workplace were comparing tan
marks and there was sexual banter involving several men and
women.
In this context, Phil joined the conversation and
commented (only to his female friend) that there were a number
of attractive women around the workplace.
Phil was married with two children and I worked with him. I
found him more helpful and considerate than the majority of his
fellow workers. He alone would run errands for me and my
colleagues (mostly women) while others (mostly men) told us to
get our own stocks from the warehouse when we ran out. He
liked to chat about the TV show Big Brother, as fascinated as his
female colleagues (and I) at the drama of human relationships.
After overhearing some of Phil’s comments, a woman (not his
female friend) took offence and reported him to a manager.
I was in a meeting with Brenda, the department director, when
Diane came to ask for her advice. They discussed sacking him
immediately, but Brenda felt the company should “give him a
chance to change”. Diane talked to Phil. He was so upset that
he did not want to come into work again, but Diane persuaded
him that this would be unfair to him. He came back the following
Monday and gave an unconditional apology to both his line
manager and the woman to whom he had caused offence. No

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action, to my knowledge, was taken against the women who
provoked his comments, or the other men and women who were
engaged in sexual banter.
The incident affected his reputation – he was marked as a
“potential threat to women” in the minds of several staff –
particularly Brenda and Diane (the same people we ‘met’ earlier
in Chapters 3 and 4, and who disciplined Ben for a drink
invitation). I chatted to him over lunch during this period and
detected that he felt frustrated at his inability to talk to his
immediate work colleagues (nearly all men).
They were
excluding him from conversations, and getting irritated with him
when he tried to talk about workplace issues. Consequently, Phil
had to make most of his conversation with women and became
increasingly isolated from the men. Then, when he failed to help
after some equipment fell over in the workplace, the men
complained that he was “not pulling his weight”.
At this time, I was working in the warehouse with a group
comprising mainly women. There was a schoolboy working with
us – the son of a company manager. He was a good looking lad,
personable, intelligent and likeable - the women teased him a lot.
Once they chatted and engaged in banter about how they would
like to “take him home”. The chat was a mixture of motherly and
sexual – but it was clear to me that had a group of 25-40 year old
men chatted about how they would like to take a 16 year old
schoolgirl home, few people (men or women) would have
interpreted their chat as ‘fatherly’.
You may remember a news story that a head teacher banned
girls from wearing short skirts to school because it created
discipline problems.8 It was around this time that a group of
schoolgirls visited Custom Products – some of them wearing short
skirts. Phil saw them and made a comment to a young man
standing next to him. With two daughters of the same age, Phil
felt no inhibitions chatting to the girls as they passed him. The
young man standing next to him, however, reported to a
manager that he chatted to the girls and commented on their
skirts.
Phil was summarily dismissed. When I followed this up with
Diane, she said that “the company just can’t take the risk” with
the clear implication that Phil may be a paedophile. Phil
escalated the matter to Harry, the Managing Director, but Harry
backed Diane’s recommendation and confirmed the sacking.

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The behaviour of the women in the warehouse towards the 16
year old schoolboy resulted in nothing more than laughter.
Nobody, even for a fraction of a second, thought that these
women may be paedophiles as a result their comments about a
young man’s sexuality and desire to take him home. Phil’s
behaviour, however, almost got him lynched. When the news
broke in my work area, a red-faced man stormed in claiming Phil
had “touched up” the schoolgirls and needed a “thumping”.
When I checked this with Diane, she said this was completely
untrue. Phil had simply talked to the girls and been sacked for
commenting on their short skirts.
The learning point here is that neither the woman who Phil

was talking to in the first incident, nor the schoolgirls in the
second incident (or the school), made any complaint about his
behaviour. The interventions that triggered both his disciplining

and sacking came from third-party interventions by people who
constructed his behaviour as “inappropriate”, even as they
engaged in similar behaviour themselves. In short, it was
inappropriate for him to admire, or talk to women or schoolgirls,
or make any comment about sexually revealing clothing (even
though head teachers and journalists were having an active
public debate around this time).
Is it conceivable that a company would sack a woman simply
for talking to men, schoolboys, or commenting on their
attractiveness or clothing? The evidence from the study is that
people in this workplace thought such behaviour from women
was ‘just a laugh’. That is, of course, what men used to say in
their own defence about 30 years ago. In which direction should
we go? Should we show greater tolerance towards men, or
greater intolerance toward women?

The Reaction to Raising Concerns
I decided to raise these issues with John, Harry, Brenda and
Diane. In Chapter 4 we learnt that Diane gave information to
women about Ben (to help them decide whether to pursue a
sexual relationship), but would not give information to Ben about
the same women. Both Brenda and Diane discouraged Ben from
pursuing relationships.
In other contexts, however, their behaviour was different.
While Brenda had discouraged John (a male director who had
been separated from his wife for over six months) from starting a

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sexual relationship with a colleague who worked in a different
office, Diane was encouraging a female manager to pursue a
relationship with a man (also a male director) with whom she
worked in the same office on a daily basis. In this case, the man
had been separated from his wife for only a few weeks, not
months.
So, when men solicited advice – and even when they did not –
they were discouraged or denied information. When women
asked advice, they were generally encouraged or given
information. These inconsistencies, therefore, are consistent.
They illustrate how women collectively co-operate to control
men’s sex lives within a community. This is consistent with John
Molloy’s finding during a 10 year study. He found that men make
their choices individually while women frequently – but not
always – behave collectively in choosing a mate.9
When I raised the behaviour of the women in my workgroup
with Harry (towards the schoolboy), I asked if I could compare
their comments with those made by Phil about the schoolgirls. I
was refused access and shortly after received the following email.
There can be no denying that our view of the integrity and
value of the research has been seriously damaged. I had
hoped Friday's meeting would have proved uplifting but, to
date, it hasn't. In respect of your proposal to include "revised
interpretations" in future work, this is of course a matter for you
and your conscience. From our perspective all we would ever
have expected is the evidence of rigour and balance in the
formulation of assertions relating to our company.
Unfortunately this was lacking, hence our disappointment.
The managers concerned – who had, up to that point, been
good friends – seemed incredulous that I should raise (or even
notice) these inconsistencies.
When it was clear that my
interpretations would not radically change, and that I intended to
continue looking into the issues, I was excluded from the
research site on Harry’s instruction. Like Irene before me (see
Chapter 4), I was “resigned due to culture mismatch”! The only
thing that stopped me being incredulous was familiarity with this
phenomenon from my earlier experience of gender conflict.

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The Current State of the Gender Equality Debate
It has become much easier in the last 30 years for women to
raise double-standards that affect their working lives. Employers
now realise that they run the risk of losing a legal case if they do
not act on their complaints. But at present, it is extremely
difficult (almost impossible) for men to raise double-standards
that affect their own working lives. As the story about Amy and
Mark shows, managers are not sympathetic, nor are solicitors
beating down the doors of the courts to uphold fairness and
justice. This may be because they do not believe men’s accounts
or think that cases cannot be won.
It is difficult for both men and women to come to terms with
the double-standard because it violates much of what we are led
to believe through the media, books, stories, films and other
forms of culture. It also offends our sense that it is ‘natural’ for
men and women to provide special protections for women in our
society. Therefore, raising the double-standard creates emotional
turmoil because it violates our sense that society has become
more equal since the 1970s.

Controlling ‘People Like Phil’
In late 2005, the sexual discrimination laws were changed to
lower the standard of evidence required to establish that
harassment and sex discrimination has occurred. The intent of
“perpetrators” – people like Phil - no longer has to be taken into
account if it can be shown that his behaviour “has the effect of”
intimidating or degrading someone at work. But if he feels
intimidated or degraded (by a false accusation), nobody appears
to take this into account.
Think of Amy and Mark, Sarah and myself, Ben and Hayley,
Diane and Ben, Brian and Mary. Could any party credibly claim
that the behaviour of the other had degraded or intimidated them
more than the other way around? Certainly, Mark – or as we
now know, Sarah – claimed she was “distressed”, but was this
claim reasonable in the light of her own behaviour? By changing
the standard of proof an employer is encouraged to act even if
the cause of a person’s distress is emotional immaturity (i.e. the
inability to process emotions).
In short, it gives carte blanche to the hurt party to transfer
responsibility for their own feelings and forces managers into the

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role of ‘parent’ obliging them to start disciplinary proceedings.
Further, it regards employees as children in the
employer/employee relationship, to be disciplined in the way a
schoolteacher might discipline an errant pupil. The parties are
not treated as adults attempting to cope with adult dilemmas and
responsibilities.
How, then, should managers react?
This is a more
challenging question than it first appears. At present, if they do
not satisfy the accuser and prevent a “hostile environment”, then
the employee can bring a claim in an industrial tribunal. This
puts enormous pressure on the employer to remove the cause of
an employee’s “distress”.
It does not, however, give the
employer much scope to determine whether the distress is
reasonable. Disbelieving the employee – by taking a sceptical
view of the cause of their distress – could be interpreted by a
court as a failure to take a complaint seriously or prevent a
hostile environment.
It might even be argued that the
investigation contributed to further employee distress, increasing
the risks to the employer.
But what of the accused? How are they to be protected from
the destruction of their career and reputation by a false or
unreasonable allegation? How can we ensure that their voice is
heard and given equal credence? How can we apply the
‘innocent until proven guilty’ standard in the workplace?
One option is to contractually oblige employees (and suppliers
or customers) to enter mediation if there is a sexual dispute.
This could be a statutory requirement. So far such provisions
have been resisted in employment law and company law (but are
gaining ground in family law).
The view at present in
employment law is that parties should decide for themselves
whether they enter mediation. If there is no provision in the
contract, then it does not have to occur. In the case of
employees, however, anyone employed for more than a year has
certain protections against unfair treatment. It is still possible
with suppliers and customers, however, to terminate a contract
immediately and unilaterally withdraw without explanation if the
contract does not make provisions for mediation.
Given that emotions run particularly deep in sexual disputes,
let us examine the roots of the double-standard. Why is it that
only the bravest (or most foolish!) attempt to confront it.

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The Roots of the Double-Standard
In 1972, Esther Vilar listed eight things that constituted a
double-standard for men and women in almost all cultures. Only
one of these has been addressed by the women’s movement.
• Men are far more likely to be conscripted into armies
• Men are far more likely to be forced to fight in wars
• Men retire later than women (even though, due to lower
life-expectancy, men could make a case that they should
be entitlement to retire earlier)
• Men have far less control over their reproduction (for men,
there is neither a pill nor abortion). Men still get the
children women want them to have, while women – in
industrialised cultures – almost never have children unless
they consent.
• Men financially support women; women rarely, or only
temporarily, provide similar support to men.
• Men work all their lives; women work only temporarily or
not at all. [This is the one aspect of social life that Vilar
claims has substantially changed after 25 years of the
women’s movement.]
• Even though men work all their lives, by the end the
average man is poorer that the average woman.10
• Men only “borrow” their children; women keep them (as
men work all their lives and women do not, men are
automatically robbed of their children in cases of
separation with the reasoning that they have to work).
All of these points are worth debating. Whether true or false,
it was not these points that emerged as the underlying cause of
the double-standard in my own research. While it is a good
description of the symptoms, the cause is two interlinked sets of
expectations. The first concerns the invisible assumption that
men will take responsibility for conflict; the second is how these
beliefs impact on courtship behaviour.

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Obstacles to Resolving Sexual Conflicts
When arguments are made that women and men are inherently
different, this translates into an argument for different
expectations based on gender. Many of these expectations are
so deeply rooted in our culture that they are invisible to us.
Beliefs about violence affect the way sexual conflicts are resolved
– including at work. Feminist scholars have repeatedly asserted
that men control women through violence or potential violence
both at home and at work.
However, data from a major self-esteem study in 1990 by the
Association for University Women (AAUW) suggests something
quite different. Both boys and girls were aware of the hostility to
boys from predominantly female teachers. In early childhood a
pattern of discipline develops whereby boys are treated in a harsh
and authoritarian manner. This is reinforced in schools – mainly
by women – and if the women need discipline enforced, they call
on men to do it for them. Both sexes (at an age where they have
not yet encountered arguments regarding women’s “oppression”)
perceive that girls are better liked and given more support while
boys are punished more harshly and more frequently11. This
data, however, was suppressed by the AAUW until uncovered and
published by researchers in the mid-1990s12.
This pattern of (mainly) women punishing (mainly) males for
“disobedience” continues into adulthood. The level of violence
against women in personal relationships emerged in studies
conducted during the 1970s and 80s. However, many of these
studies only asked women about violence. Researchers started to
question the design of these studies. They asked - as more and
more people are now asking - what results will be obtained if we
ask both men and women the same questions. By early 2005,
there had been 174 studies involving both men and women13; 27
showed violence between men and women to be equal; 25
showed men (in one or more respects to be more violent) while
90 showed women (in one or more respects) to be more
violent14. Where one sex attacks the other and the other does
not fight back, it is women – by a ratio of 3:1 to 7:1 depending
on the study – who initiate the physical attack. This should not
obscure, however, that the bulk of the evidence finds violence is
equitable and reciprocal (in around two-thirds of cases).

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Those who object to the two-gender studies argue that men
are stronger and the consequences to women from male violence
are more serious.15 Studies, however, are equivocal on this
point. Older studies show greater levels of physical harm to
women but these are based on self-reports. This introduces bias
because a woman punched by a man is more likely to think of
this as violence (and a crime) than a man punched by a woman.
The lack of concern over women punching men is revealed in
media studies and popular culture. In the women’s media, and
on greeting cards, for example, images of violence against men
are considered humourous. Below are some examples:
Not all men are annoying: some are dead.
(Slogan on a badge)
Well, finally – a man who gets it!
(Caption on a cartoon with a man pointing a gun at his own
head)
“Mommy, how come men usually die before women?”
”Well dear, no one knows, but we think it’s a pretty good
system.”
(Poster)16
In contrast, no market or industry exists for greeting cards
that depict violence against women for men’s amusement.17
Later studies into male/female violence were designed
differently, and were able to reduce gender bias in assessing the
seriousness of injuries by asking the participant what treatment
they received. They find that women compensate for men’s
greater physical strength by using knives or other instruments
and that men sustain serious injuries at least as often as
women18. Two studies in particular, highlight this. Firstly,
researchers found that – contrary to expectations - 13% of men
and 9% of women were physically injured. Secondly, they found
that 1.8% (men) and 1.2% (women) reported injuries needing
first aid and that 1.5% (men) and 1.1% (women) needed
treatment by a doctor or nurse.

Are Men ‘Naturally’ Violent?
The belief that men are inherently more violent – without
discussion of the social reasons that give rise to violence - results

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in many false views about men, and many false allegations.
A study of war-time behaviour, for example, showed that only
2% of men in the trenches shot to kill – that 98% of men shot to
miss! Put a gun in a man’s hand, give him total permission to
maim and kill without retribution and 49 out of every 50 will turn
down the chance even though they risk a court-martial for

cowardice, and death by firing squad, if their behaviour is
discovered by their own commanders.19 Seen another way, in all

male environments (i.e. when there are no women present) face
to face male-on-male violence virtually disappears, even when
the context is war.
The belief that men are inherently violent, therefore, is a
media (and evolutionary psychologists) fiction. Reports are not a
reaction to the actual levels of injury to both sexes but the level
of emotion that attacks on each sex provokes. Collectively, we
care more about women’s injuries than men’s injuries, more
about women’s feelings than men’s feelings. This provides a
simple, and highly credible, explanation for why women show
their feelings and report their injuries more often than men.
There is less incentive to show your feelings when people
disbelieve your claims, or attack you for showing your feelings.
There is an increased incentive to show feelings if you think your
claims will be believed.
The argument (or culturally held belief) that men are the
violent sex, therefore, is not only untrue in the context of
personal relationships, it can be understood as an outcome of
having to enter the competitive world of wealth creation.
Success is needed not just to survive personally, but to attract a
mate. Why, then, do we insist on believing that men are
‘naturally’ more violent? Why is the idea propagated that men
control women (and other men) through their potential for
violence? Is it because there is a hidden consensus that men
should be responsible for violence?

Cultural Images of Violence During Courtship
The nature and purpose of male violence in films is particularly
enlightening. There are legions of films that celebrate violent
men who protect women 20 and who berate violent men who
harm women 21. The film Gladiator was a favourite amongst
women because the hero (Russell Crowe) was considered “sex on

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legs” by popular women’s magazines.
The film, however,
consists of him routinely and repeatedly lopping the heads off
(and sticking swords into) men in order to get a chance to
avenge his wife’s death.
Another favourite amongst women was Cold Mountain, where
a man (Jude Law) – a deserter from the army walking home at
the request of his lover during the American civil war - ruthlessly
and efficiently kills men in defence of vulnerable women before
returning home to impregnate his lover (Nicole Kidman). Male
violence, is contemporary entertainment – erotic entertainment
even – for women, so long as the violence is directed towards
their safety.
How are these modern Hollywood heroes rewarded for their
unselfish protection of women at the conclusion of the film?
They are killed saving the woman they love the most. Russell
Crowe lies dying in the gladiatorial arena having avenged both his
wife and saved his earthly sweetheart from a corrupt emperor.
Jude Law lies dying after arriving home to shoot dead the men
who had been sexually pursuing his lover.
Just as in the box-office record setterTitanic, the death of the
male hero increases the romantic climax of the film. Modern
movies still play heavily on heroic men violently saving women,
and in the biggest box-office successes dying for the woman he
loves the most. Male death, in a romantic context, sells. And it
sells particularly well to women.
Now here is a challenge for you – one that you can play at
dinner parties like the “woman doctor” riddle immortalised in the
film Tin Cup. Can you think of any movie (or book) that uses the
death of a woman who has just saved her male lover to enhance
the romantic climax of the film?22
In popular culture, violence by men is presented as part of a
romantic fantasy, but only when the purpose is to protect
(beautiful) women or family members from other violent men.
While this has been articulated as the preservation of “male
dominance”, it is actually the women who survive and the men
who die as a result of this “dominance”. In the most “romantic”
films, even the male hero dies. So, is it men who are empowered
or women? Have we been conned for nearly half a century by a
false (or one-sided) argument?
Now that many studies show that men do not use violence or
the threat of violence to control women any more than women
use it to control men, it is time for a major rethink on the way we

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view gender conflict. The claim that men are responsible for
violence masks a political argument (and cultural arrangement)
that men should be responsible for violence. The root cause is a
romantic fantasy. Women want social and economic protection,
particularly at the point of giving birth to a child. When it comes
to selecting a mate (rather than a boyfriend) they are attracted
to, and regularly select, those men who are appear able to
provide it.

The Impact of Beliefs about Violence
Women who want children are attracted to men that are
economically successful and physically strong.23 This is, of
course, an entirely understandable (and reasonable) way of
thinking when there is an expectation of vulnerability during and
after childbirth. It is also a reasonable way of thinking when
considering what is needed to raise a family within a society
where violence still occurs.
It is unremarkable – even if difficult for men and women to
accept – that the prevalent idea in our society is that men are
and also should be more responsible for conflict. This inclines us
– reflexively – to assign responsibility for all conflicts to men
(male/male and male/female, sometimes even female/female24),
even when initiated by women. This bias shows up in academic
studies. Over 95% of false allegations about violence and sexual
abuse are made by women. Men are the target of false
accusations 96% of the time25. What is important here is that
the accusations are believed – the study examined the outcomes
of court cases.
Moreover, accusations or revelations that trigger sympathy
can be part of courtship to induce a potential lover to show their
feelings and start to protect. Watchers of the popular TV series
24 will remember the way that Jack Bauer’s daughter, Kim,
pretended that her father was dead to induce Rick to feel
sympathy for her. Rick responded by putting his arm around her
– a “result” from Kim’s perspective.
Later, Kim goads Rick by taunting him with the question “do
you always do what he tells you to do?” to get Rick to defend her
(and her girlfriend) against a threatening man. Rick not only
responds, but actually starts to “have feelings” for Kim, rather
than recognize that she is manipulating him. Kim, in turn, starts

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to “have feelings” for Rick when he protects her. Much of the
storyline is rooted in the sexual tension created by his desire to
protect her, and her desire to be protected by him.
Conflicts at work are underpinned by a similar dynamic – a
woman decides to switch allegiance and give her attention, and
support, to a person better placed to handle her conflicts (i.e.
reduce her emotional distress). As in the case involving Harry,
Brenda and Diane (Chapter 4), handling such conflicts on a
woman’s behalf can win a man approval – something that may
potentially lead to a sexual encounter or closer friendship (or, at
least, avoid being criticised as a “loser”, “wuss”, “wimp” or
“weakling”!) Both parties, therefore, have an emotional reason
for the “stronger” party to handle the “weaker” party’s conflicts –
if they want a close relationship.
The result is a social dynamic that works against some men
and in favour of some women but also creates the glass-ceiling
culture. Women cannot indefinitely escalate conflicts to men.
Men and women, on the other hand, who have reached top
positions by handling others conflicts are unlikely to welcome into
their midst anyone whose conflicts they have had to handle
regularly. Thus is created a complex web of male/female
behaviour that both creates and resolves gender (sexual) conflicts
to the advantage of some pairs of men and women at the
expense of others.
It is this interlinked relationship between beliefs about
violence and courtship that creates a second obstacle to equitable
outcomes in gender conflicts. Let us now see how some
women’s propensity for testing out a man’s conflict handling skills
ends up encouraging behaviours that some women welcome as
courtship but other women label ‘harassment’.

The “Problem” of Courtship
As I have demonstrated, the most productive relationships are
equitable and reciprocal. However, not all people seek this either for work or romantic purposes. The purpose behind
courtship – as with other relationship building processes - is to
check out and establish the inequities (or symmetries if you
prefer) that both parties desire. In Chapter 3, I examined the
additional conditions that women apply before they will be drawn
into a sexual relationship with a man. Assuming there is sexual
attraction and a desire for children, these additional criteria

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answer an additional question: “will this man provide for and
protect me?” For men, recent research has shown that they too
have a range of criteria beyond sexual attractiveness and the
desire for children: it can be captured by the question “will this
woman make me a better person and help my career?”26
For men, it might be assumed that they would prefer to find a
life partner who does not make them jump through hoops before
committing to a sexual relationship, but this – generally speaking
- is not the case. A 10-year study has established that many men
prefer women they have to pursue. Why? Because if a woman
puts up barriers to his advances, she is more likely to resist the
advances of other men. If he can overcome her resistance then
he will have found a partner more likely to be faithful. To a man
that wants children, this is important (he will be as sure as
possible that the children she bears are his). A woman, however,
does not have to do this – she knows that any children she has
are her own without checking out if a man will resist other
women’s advances.
So, the rituals of courtship – for a man who cares about the
fidelity of his partner, and women who care about the capacity of
their partner to provide and protect – are rooted in behaviours
that involve repeated attempts by the man to overcome the
resistance of the woman. This behaviour is not about dominance
– it is about both parties establishing compatible and
complimentary values for raising children.
My interpretation is that women who want to stay at home
with children are more likely to want caring and protective
partners. Women who want to have careers – or to have
independence within their marriage - are less likely to want caring
and protective partners. Men who want a committed relationship
with children are more likely to seek a partner who resists their
advances. But, men who have no strong feelings about a longterm relationship – or want independence within their marriage are less likely to seek a partner who resists their advances.

Impacts on Gender Conflict
As we noted earlier, the principle female fantasy in romance
novels is a man at work who overcomes her resistance. It is not
difficult, now, to see why this is the case. For women with a
Bridget Jones fantasy - to marry a “real man”, have a child, and

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split their time between home and work – the ideal man is one
who will show commitment through repeated pursuit of her.
Secondly, as Mark Darcy is willing to do, he will also fight rivals
(including those who hurt her feelings) and save her when she
gets into trouble.
Where this cultural arrangement breaks down, however, is
when a person not seeking commitment meets a person who is
(or as is increasingly the case, a man or woman meets a person
more interested in their career than commitment). As soon as it
is realised by the party seeking commitment that the other party
is only interested in sex or friendship, then flirting is
reconstructed as deceit rather than goodwill even if the intention
is the honest communication of warm feelings. In these
circumstances, anger and bitterness fuels accusations of
“inappropriate” behaviour as one party comes to see the other as
a perpetrator of emotional fraud (behaving in a ‘seductive’ way
without the intention of a committed relationship).
Recent research suggests that the majority of sexual
accusations (against men) take place after rejection occurs in a
relationship that was freely entered into27. Many of these occur
because the man resists a woman’s attempts to coerce him into
accepting her sexual values and attitudes. In short, she tries to
socialise (i.e. ‘harass’) him into buying her things, ‘give’ her
children, propose marriage to her, promise exclusivity and risk his
own life to protect her. If he resists, she gets angry. To end the
double-standard, we need to accept all forms - not just male
forms - of harassment and reconstruct them as attempts to
socialise “the other”. We then need a fresh debate about forms
of socialisation (if any) that should be considered crimes worthy
of punishment.
Currently, managers (and the courts) have to presume
equality. They can no longer make allowance for the norms of
courtship, the various patterns of non-verbal and verbal
communication, or the disproportionate number of false sexual
accusations against men. The law is only equal on paper. To
become equal in practice will require managers, solicitors and
judges who will grapple with the issues set out in this chapter,
and find the moral courage to face down public outrage when
both sexes clamour for women to be granted more protection
than men, or for men to take more responsibility than women.
There is also a strong argument to reintroduce consideration
of intent (i.e. reversing the recent changes in sexual harassment

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law that allows an employer or court to ignore intent). Current
life-goals (the desire for a partner) as well as specific intent
towards “the other” matter. The former radically changes the
way a person inter-relates with people of the other sex. The
latter informs the specific context of the accusation.

The Level of Truthful Allegations
What about the level of truthful accusations? A series of careful
studies into false accusations – repeated three times because of
scepticism over the findings – found that only 40% of rape
allegations by women against men are true. Dr Macgregor’s
studies remain unique because his team of three researchers
investigated women’s reasons for making false allegations.28 The
initial study was undertaken when 26% of women in the Air Force
admitted lying just before taking a lie-detector test. By talking to
these women, Dr McDowell established 35 criteria that they had
in common.
Using these criteria – three judges reexamined the remaining
cases. If all three independently agreed the accusation was false,
it was recorded as a false accusation. If one of the three felt the
allegation was true, it was recorded (for the purposes of the
research) as true, even if the other two felt the allegation was
false. After bringing their results together, the study concluded
that only 40% of the accusations were true.
Sceptical that these results may simply reflect the culture in
the Air Force, the study was repeated in two police forces with
civilian case files – the finding of 60% false accusations held. In
both cases, however, city authorities refused permission to
publish for fear of political repercussions. Overwhelmingly, the
reason for a false allegation was to provide a plausible
explanation for distress when unable to continue, hide or pursue
a relationship that was originally desired.

How Can Managers Respond?
What complicates responses to gender-conflict is not only the
male/female dynamic between the accuser and the accused, but
the male/female dynamic between the accuser and her (or his)
line manager and social network. There can be a hidden (and
unstated) incentive to use the opportunity of conflict to
strengthen other relationships. This impacts on conflict resolution

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processes. Is there a gender bias amongst line managers,
especially male, expressed through support for women’s
arguments in sexual conflicts? Are men undermining their own
for the sake of consensus and acquired beliefs about their own
sex? Are they taking advantage of increasingly rare opportunities
to win women’s approval?
The ideal role of a manager, but a more difficult one, is to
provide emotional support to both parties without taking sides.
This can put the manager in a difficult position, but it provides a
focus for the management training of the future to enable equal
opportunity and sexual equality to take root.
Mediate, mediate and then mediate some more! If there is to
be discipline and punishment, apply it to the party that will not
listen to the other. Reward engagement and dialogue, not
withdrawal and accusation. Remember also that openness will
not happen automatically – it only happens in an environment
where a person believes that the information volunteered will not
be used against them. It takes time to build such trust – more
time than managers may wish to give. Instead of paying for legal
advice, pay for a mediator.

Summary
In this chapter I have examined the complexity of sexual conflict
and the depth of prejudices that surface during disputes. In
unravelling the difficulties there are a number of no-win scenarios
that can be turned to win-win scenarios by changing the way
gender conflicts are understood and managed.
To make this change, however, requires an understanding of
both the cultural pressures that induce men to become women’s
heroes, and how women seek them out at times of crisis. We
can experience the depth of these cultural values by watching
award winning films that are box-office hits (even notionally
‘feminist’ films like Cold Mountain). In doing so, the patterns of
courtship – and their irreconcilability with current assumptions in
sexual harassment laws – are exposed.
Zero-tolerance approaches create communities in which
anyone (but normally men) willing and capable of handling
conflict will be promoted more rapidly.
This creates the
glass-ceiling. Others, less willing to handle conflict, or who are
blamed for conflict, are demoted or excluded. As a result, those

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who wish to promote gender equality need to consider a radically
different management approach:
• Abandon all use of disciplinary and grievance proceedings
for sexual conflicts in favour of compulsory mediation.
• Make sure all parties understand that blame and
punishment is not the goal of the mediation – the goal is
mutual understanding.
• Integrate mediation into trading contracts and contracts of
employment.
• Support parties trying to express their emotions (so long as
the emotions expressed contribute to the other’s learning).
• Do not expect or demand “the truth” - truth telling will
increase as trust increases (and will stop if trust is
decreasing).
• Remember that most people will struggle to express any
sexual feelings openly.
Let us finish on a positive note. Overcoming a conflict,
particularly a sexual conflict, increases intimacy between people
Men and
and strengthens their relationship substantially.29
women who understand and accept their sexual feelings for each
other have particularly satisfying relationships (even when not
married or in a sexual relationship). In the final chapter, I
consider the way that intimacy impacts on people at work by
considering the stories of participants in a recent international
study. I consider its recommendations regarding management
training. Lastly, I outline why professionals and managers need
to take greater interest in intimacy – they are more likely to be
pursued for relationships….

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Notes on Chapter 6
1

See Kakabadse, A., Kakabadse, N. (2004) Intimacy: International
Survey of the Sex Lives of People at Work, Palgrave. Ironically, this

study reveals how relationships in organisations dependant on public
appearances (such as solicitors practices) are conducted covertly. The
incidence levels are not necessarily lower, but the manner in which
they are conducted leads to many humorous anecdotes as well as
bitterness on the part of people who would prefer to have their
relationships acknowledged.
2

This is a study yet to be undertaken, but something I hope to
research at some point. In Chapter 7, I briefly review a recent case in
which a woman was able to secure representation based only on a
verbal account of her experiences at a party.

3

For legal reasons “Sarah”, and all the true identities remain
pseudonyms. The true identity of the parties is less important for
discussion than their gender, and the way managers responded and
intervened on their behalf. I give people names to make it easier to
refer to them in subsequent discussion.

4

Farrell, W. (1994) The Myth of Male Power, London, Fourth Estate,
p. 13.

5

ibid, p. 2.

6

ibid, p. 2.

7

Vilar, E. (1998) The Manipulated Man, pp. 7-11.

8

BBC News (2004) Mini-Skirt Row Spark School Ban, 20th June 2004.
See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3823551.stm for full details.

9

Molloy, J. (2003) Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others,
Element. See also Allan, E. (2004) “Analyzing the Obvious: Hazing
and Gender” in H. Nuwer (ed), The Hazing Reader, Indiana University
Press. Allan reports that women collectively organise sex games for
leading or powerful men in order to maintain their own attractiveness
to such men.

10

See Farrell, W. (1994) The Myth of Male Power, London, Fourth
Estate, p. 32, 33, 34, 48, 56-57, 117, 128-130. Based on census data,
Farrell concluded that women as head of households had 141% the

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income of men. Also, within the top 1.6% of the population, women’s
average income is higher than men’s.
11

See AAUW/Greeberg-Lake (1990) Full Data report: Expectations and
Aspirations: Gender Roles and Self-Esteem, American Association of

University Women, p. 18. Over 90% of both boys and girls reported
that boys are punished more frequently.

12

See Hoff-Sommers, C. (1995) Who Stole Feminism? How women
have betrayed women, Simon & Schuster and Hoff-Sommers, C.
(2000) The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming
Our Young Men, Touchstone.

13

See Fiebert, M. (2005) References Examining Assaults by Women on
their Spouses or Male Partners: An Annotated Bibliography, California
State University.

14

Figures from studies reporting only men or only women have been
excluded.

15

For an overview of counter-arguments see Kimmel, M. (2001) Male
victims of domestic violence: A substantive and methodological
research review, report to the Equality Committee of the Department

of Education and Science, 2001. Kimmel attacks the Conflict Tactics
Scale (CTS) used in two-gender studies as biased. However, the CTS
is rigourous in eliminating bias from studies into violence by ensuring
that both sexes are asked the same questions and use a 10-point
scale to assess levels of violence. It has been modified following early
criticism and findings on levels of violence have not changed (see
Fiebert, 2005).
16

Examples from Farrell, W. (2000) Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t

Say, Tarcher/Putnam, Chapter 7.
17

ibid, Chapter 7. This chapter reviews the media and greeting card
industry to show how there is a large market for images of women
hurting men, or men being hurt. The reverse does not hold – there
are no adverts or greeting cards to amuse men with images of women
being physically hurt.

18

See Capaldi, D. M., Owen, L. D. (2001). “Physical aggression in a
community sample of at-risk young couples: Gender comparisons for
high frequency, injury, and fear.” Journal of Family Psychology,
15(3): 425-440. Headley, B. D., Scott and D. de Vaus. (1999)

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“Domestic Violence in Australia: Are Men and Women Equally Violent”,
Australian Social Monitor, 2(3), July.
19

Ashworth, A. E. (1968) “The sociology of trench warfare, 1914-1918”,

The British Journal of Sociology, 1968, pp. 407-423.
20

Gladiator, Cold Mountain, LA Confidential are all Oscar winning films
from recent years based on this underlying premise.

21

Silence of the Lambs and Unforgiven are contemporary Oscar winning
examples.

22

My examination is not exhaustive or robust – I did, however,
challenge myself by reviewing the last 20 years of Oscar nominated
films. None use the death of a woman saving a man as a romantic
climax.

23

Buss, D. (1994) The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating,
New York: Basic Books.

24

As might be the case, for example, of two women in conflict over a
“cheating” man.

25

Wakefield, H., Underwager, R. (1990) “Personality Characteristics of
Parents Making False Accusations of Sexual Abuse in Custody
Disputes”, Issues in Child Abuse Accusations, 2: 121-136.

26

See Molloy, J (2003) Why Men Marry Some Women but Not Others,
Element, pp. 38-40.

27

Kakabadse, A., Kakabadse, N. (2004) Intimacy: International Survey
of the Sex Lives of People at Work, Palgrave.

28

McDowell, P. (1985) “False Allegations”, Forensic Science Digest,
11(4), p. 64. The digest is not available publicly because it is a
publication of the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Its
findings are discussed, however, in several other books. See also
Webb, C. Chapian, M. (1985) Forgive Me, Appendix B. Cathleen Webb
paid a special tribute to Dr McDowell’s investigative insights in her
own book about making a false allegation.

29

See De Drue, C., Weingart, L. (2003) “Task versus relationship
conflict, team performance, and team member satisfaction: A metaanalysis”, Journal of Applied Psychology, 78(889-905). Also, Tjosvold,
D. (1998) “The cooperative and competitive goal approach to conflict:

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Accomplishments and challenges”, Applied Psychology: An
International Review, 47: 285-342 and the most recent corroboration
in Tjosvold, D., Poon, M. and Yu, Z. (2005) “Team effectiveness in
China: Cooperative conflict for relationship building”, Human Relations,
58(3): 341-366.

Chapter 7 – Coping Strategies
An Introduction
Some years ago, Caroline and I survived a period during which
we both deeply hurt each others’ feelings.
I discovered
something in the course of reconciling with her. Firstly, I could
face any situation at work if I felt secure and happy at home.
Secondly, I could face any situation at home when secure and
happy at work. No matter where we find our security and
happiness, it provides a place from which to develop life afresh,
to recover and heal our wounds and reduce our desire to punish
others. Amongst the many things we found to help was a
reading that we chose for our wedding ceremony. Although
these words were directed to married couples, they have
something to teach us about the nature of relationships –
including those in the workplace:
Escape from Loneliness
Love is something far more than desire for sexual fulfilment; it
the principal means of escape from the loneliness which
afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of
their lives. There is a deep-seated fear, in most people, of the
cold world and the possible cruelty of the herd; there is a
longing for affection, which is often concealed by roughness,
scolding or a bullying manner. Passionate mutual love puts an
end to this feeling; it breaks down the hard walls of the ego,
producing a new being.
Nature did not construct human beings to stand alone and
civilised people cannot fully satisfy their sexual instinct without
love. The instinct is not completely satisfied unless our whole
being, mental quite as much as physical, enters into the
relationship. Those who have never known deep intimacy and
intense companionship have missed the best thing that life
has to give; unconsciously, if not consciously, they feel this,
and the resulting disappointment inclines them towards envy,
oppression and cruelty. To give due place to love should be

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therefore a matter which concerns us all, since, if we miss this
experience, we cannot attain our full stature, and cannot feel
towards the rest of the world that kind of generous warmth
without which society would be much poorer.
Adapted from ‘Marriage and Morals” by Bertrand Russell.
In this chapter, I want to suggest to you that the best strategy
for handling relationship problems at work is to create an
organisation structure where people have the space to talk about
their relationships. This may mean providing support for informal
groups as well as formal ones, and providing support – while
resisting intervention - when people are in distress. In arriving at
this view, I will explore the findings of a recent international
study of intimacy, including the authors’ recommendations to
managers on handling conflict.
There are two arguments that will evolve in the first half of
this chapter. Firstly, a positive attitude to intimacy at work is the
mark of an emotionally mature – and economically insightful leader. Intimacy helps people learn relationship skills, and
management – more than any other occupation – is about
forging, managing, developing and ending relationships. This
does not necessarily mean that managers should encourage
intimate workplace relationships, but it does suggest that
whenever a person is struggling in one – whether inside or
outside the workplace – it is in the interests of all for the leader
to support them in their struggle to work out a solution, rather
than intervene on their behalf. The way such moments of a
person’s life are handled leaves an indelible mark on the way they
approach situations in the future.
Secondly, leaders (whether formally ‘appointed’ or not) are
more likely to find themselves the subject of others’ relationship
aspirations. People flock to them, seek things from them more
often than others, and this can make it harder to navigate the
ambiguity inherent in receiving a lot of attention. As working
closely with people is the single biggest factor in the development
of intimacy, and leaders have more relationships than others,
their own emotions – on several levels – are more at risk. This
provides an added incentive for those with career aspirations to
equip themselves for the task.
In the second half of this chapter, I turn my attention to
strategies for handling conflict. I draw out the rationale and

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argument for mediation – both informally, and as part of the legal
documents that govern the organisation’s relationships with
employees, suppliers and customers. I consider the ideological
implications of a changed approach for the simple reason that our
approach to handling conflict is often rooted in the ideology that
we apply to life. By changing the way we view a “problem”, we
change the way that we deal with it. One of the strategies I offer
is to view problems in a different way in order to maximise the
chance of a win-win-win outcome (win for each party plus the
organisation to which they belong).
As part of this journey, let us first review how intimacy
impacts on people in the workplace.

The Impacts of Intimacy at Work
One of the surprises in the background reading for this book was
the discovery that four times as many people report beneficial
outcomes from intimate relationships at work than the opposite.1
Secondly, the desire for intimacy is increasing and cannot be
inhibited by management action. These are the conclusions of an
international survey published in 2004. In that survey only
2% of respondents believed that policy-guided
approaches to managing intimate relationships actually
work.
A far greater number felt that policy-based
interventions made the situation worse rather than
better.
The reports of those who experience intimacy make
fascinating reading and women’s accounts provide some balance
for the predominantly male accounts in earlier chapters. Names
are not given in the original study, but I give people fictional
names to make it easier to read. Let us start with Sheila:
I grew and changed as an individual through this experience. I
have learned a lot of things about myself, about the true
nature of love. I have also learned to be more sympathetic
and less judgemental of other people (and of myself) when
they are facing difficult situations. Has it enhanced my life?
Undoubtedly! Was it traumatic? Desperately! Would I take it
back? No, not a moment of it! 2
Handling intimacy, and the emotions aroused, is not stress
free. Even though the above relationship led to marriage,
Sheila’s work colleagues reacted badly and both she and her

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husband had to leave the company. However, even when
relationships did not result in marriage, women still report
predominantly positive experiences. Indeed, both parties to
intimate relationships report positive attitudes more often than
negative attitudes, even when the relationships broke up or were
short lived. The account below was given by Jenny:
Stan was a ‘hunk’, an attractive guy who was fully aware of his
physical attractiveness to the other sex. At the same time, he
was highly intelligent and able to ‘play’ with ideas and inspire
interesting thoughts in everyone around him, including me. I
remember in particular his statement, which I pondered for
years, “there is nothing more logical than emotion and nothing
more emotional than logic.” At the time, the mere fact that one
could sit and debate the meaning of concepts such as ‘love’,
‘logic’ and ‘emotion’ was a revelation to me. It was so
refreshing...I simply basked in the freedom that Stan exuded
and enjoyed every minute of being around him.
He was a free spirit and was not interested in me being tied to
him. I was not interested in having him tied to me either…he
was not the type to get attached emotionally to anyone. Even
though the relationship did not result in a marriage or even a
long term friendship, I cannot say that it resulted in a trauma or
big disappointment…He came into my life at a time that I was
ready to be liberated and changed it forever. He inspired me
to pursue my dreams. How could I be angry at him for that? 3
In these two accounts – whether the relationships survived or
not – intimacy transformed the women’s lives. They learnt a
great deal about themselves, how to handle emotions, about
tolerance, and the give and take of close relationships. For
those, however, that hid the strength of their feelings, the
outcomes were more mixed. Let us look at two more stories
where women did not express their feelings to the men they
desired.
Belinda was a mature student who fell in love with her
research supervisor, William. She changed courses to avoid
“complications” when William did not respond. Belinda says that
she tried all sorts of non-verbal ways of interesting her supervisor
but stopped after he started another relationship. Despite this,
William continued to take an interest in her work and helped her
whenever he could. After her studies she wrote a letter and told
him that she loved him and he replied that he had no idea she

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had felt like this but that their relationship “was like an island out
of time and space”. She regarded it as “one of the most beautiful
letters that I have ever received”.
As a result, they continued corresponding even though both
had married other people. They had a life-long friendship until
William died. When William’s marriage broke down, he emailed
Belinda to say he was single again and she wrote back quickly to
invite him to stay. Disappointingly, however, Belinda received no
reply. Later she learnt that William had died on the very same
day, living in his work office, searching for a new place to live
after being asked to leave home by his wife.
In reflecting on this, Belinda commented that:
I learnt that not doing is worse than doing. I simply couldn’t
forgive myself for not even trying to initiate a relationship with
him. When I found myself in similar situations later in my life, I
did take the initiative and learnt to live with the consequences.
The most important learning from this relationship was that I
was more than just a brain. This man taught me that I had
feelings…thanks to him I managed to emerge out of the
intellectual cocoon that I created around myself….4
Even though the relationship was not consummated, it had a
lifelong impact on their personal and working lives. As with
Jenny, the sense of gratitude is palpable – Belinda believed that
she benefited from the relationship for the rest of her life.

Carol and Richard
The third story illustrates the economic impact from being unable
to express feelings. Carol, a project administrator contacted
Richard, a senior manager to begin discussions on a multi-million
pound project. Richard was known as a cranky, private and
difficult man but Carol found that once there was mutual sexual
interest, they started to get along well:
…most people who had already worked with him were baffled
as to how well we working together and how I seemed to have
been able to move him along in accepting some of the
parameters that other stakeholders were insisting be part of
the proposed collaboration. My ability to keep him ‘on side’
and keep the project moving forward had earned me a great
deal of recognition within the organisation.5

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Carol reports that she started to fall in love with Richard –
simply on the basis of their email correspondence and when they
had a chance to meet they hit it off well.
Within a few minutes we were sharing a laugh…his two
closest colleagues – both women – had worked with him for
more than ten years and did not enjoy this easy rapport with
him. I found myself thinking about the possibility of an affair
with him. Did I want this? Yes, I did, but I also recognised
what was at risk for me both personally and professionally.
They socialised and continued to work together, but over time
her feelings started to change:
I sensed that there was something amiss but I couldn’t put my
finger on it. In retrospect, I think that deep down I was
beginning to recognise that the fantasy of a special
relationship with this man was just that – a fantasy that would
not be sustained.
With her change of attitude, the relationship quickly
deteriorated and Richard stopped returning her calls. Eventually
she told the other stakeholders in the project that she could not
work with him any longer and recommended they stop funding
the project. In her reflections she says:
…as difficult as it was, I did learn that I could do what was
necessary when I had to – that I could maintain my
professionalism. I also learned to trust my inner voice…my
trust meter is much more sensitive today.6
The story is illustrative for two reasons: firstly, it shows how
powerful a force love can be in motivating people to work
together efficiently. The exhilaration that sprang from the
opportunities for intimacy made an ‘impossible’ project possible,
simply because Carol and Richard were so motivated to work
together. Later, however, when neither could find a way to say
out loud what they were privately feeling, the relationship starts
to deteriorate. It is likely – although Carol does not express it in
these terms – that Richard felt rejected.
Carol interprets
Richard’s change of behaviour as “unprofessional” while her own
– closing down the project – is presented as a “professional”
course of action.
Was recommending the termination of a multi-million pound
project a reasonable and professional course of action? Or would

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Carol have shown greater professionalism by expressing her
feelings to Richard? Would it have been more professional to
admit the impact of her feelings to her work colleagues? Maybe
this way, the project could have continued.

Tackling the Intimacy “Problem”
While we could take the view that the kinds of problems reported
above are created by intimacy at work, an alternative point of
view is that intimacy itself is not the problem – the inability of the
parties to deal with intimacy is the problem. Problems arise
when people are unable to express their true feelings
inside (or about) a relationship that is becoming, or has
become, intimate.
As the above stories illustrate, the ability and inability to
express feelings has personal and organisational consequences
that are far reaching. Few people who expressed their feelings
regretted doing so – the regrets come predominantly from those
who did not express their feelings. A few, like Carol, came to
think that putting work before personal relationships was an
expression of “professionalism”, but we should not lose sight of
the way her intimate relationship with Richard gave her career a
massive boost when it “earned [Carol] a great deal of
recognition”.
In the Kakabadses’ study, those who conquered their fears
found that enduring friendship was the most frequent outcome
(40% of cases). For some, the outcome was bitterness and
disappointment (10% of cases). The impact of jealousy or
bitterness from relationship breakdown – as was found at Custom
Products and elsewhere – is of such a magnitude that there is still
an incentive to find better ways to handle relationship
breakdowns. With this in mind, let us consider the views of Ann,
one woman who had difficulty coping with sexual advances,
however innocent:
As a social and fairly extroverted person I have, on occasion,
been propositioned by men at work with whom I have enjoyed
what I consider to be a good platonic relationship. Looking
back, if I had been able to anticipate their advances I would
probably have been able to deal with them better. Instead, I
have found myself employing avoidance tactics, feeling very
guilty and even, on one occasion, bizarrely dating a man
simply because, as a friend, I couldn’t bring myself to let him

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down. Certainly, in terms of work relationships, post my
realisation of their feeling, I have found it very difficult and
embarrassing to deal with these individuals which may
certainly have affected my productivity.7
Ann was unable to process her own or other people’s
emotions. Her admission that she finds it “very difficult and
embarrassing to deal with these individuals” belies that she is
embarrassed by sexual feelings.
When propositioned, Ann
regarded her work colleagues as “overstepping the mark” rather
than exploring or engaging in reasonable sexual behaviour. Ann
was not alone in believing that people should not have intimate
relationships at work – some men held these views as well.
Imagine that a colleague came to you in this case. What advice
would you give regarding the “appropriateness” of the men’s
behaviour? Do you believe that Ann is correct in characterising
her male colleagues’ behaviour as “inappropriate”? Or do you
consider that her colleagues’ behaviour is reasonable in the
circumstances.
In my view, it is not helpful to Ann to regard her colleague’s
behaviour as “inappropriate” unless they continue their pursuit
after Ann has communicated her disinterest. Even then, it is
helpful to both Ann and the men interested in her to understand
how a misunderstanding occurred in the first place. The most
constructive approach, therefore, is to support Ann so that she
can express to her male colleagues what her wishes are, and help
her understand why she is attractive to them. One sentence in
her account stands out:
…if I had been able to anticipate their advances I would
probably have been able to deal with them better…
Why was she not able to anticipate them? Knowledge of body
language alerts people to others’ interest quickly. There are a
wide range of behaviours – particularly eye contact, body
alignment, patterns and frequency of communication, touch and
copying behaviour - that can quickly alert an observant person to
others’ interest. There are also signalling behaviours that are
commonly interpreted – even if not intended – as a desire for
sexual attention. By helping Ann understand what is attractive in
her behaviour, and the various ways she is communicating her

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desire for attention, she will come to understand why her male
colleagues are asking her out.
As an employer, the best way to protect Ann is to help her learn
about her own attractiveness and the signals she gives off that
others interpret as a need for attention. That way, she can take
control of what she is ‘saying’ to others. The men will also feel
respected if they are not blamed for responding to behaviours
that are attractive.
In some organisations, the culture of ‘no relationships’ is so
strong that employees cannot admit to having a relationship. The
farcical outcome in one solicitor’s practice is described by Pauline
and Jeremy:
Pauline: It’s crazy. There must be about five or six other
couples, all like us, trying to hide their affair. The
reason the management do not know is that
everybody here is very professional. They do their job
as required and more! As if we have a social life! We
both work over 60 hours.
Jeremy: What is irritating and wastes time is what we have to
do to conceal our relationship, pretend we are distant
from each other, not speak to each other at work; be
careful where we are seen socially outside of work.
That is irritating; to think that management here
figuratively follow you when the work is done. And all
of this deceit for what? People have relationships at
work. Here, in particular, nobody knows. In other
places nobody could care less. The only ones
affected are us. As soon as I can leave, I will. What a
waste.8
Given that management interventions cannot stop intimacy at
work, any workplace that implements ‘no relationship’ policies has
to contend with two things: the impact of clandestine
relationships; the loss of staff (together with the investment in
their recruitment, training and induction). The relationships – as
the above extract illustrates – will continue.

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The Hypocrisy of “Professionalism”
“Professionalism” is a cover, a charade that hides the social
reality of sexual desire and intimacy. As Jeremy points out – it is
wasteful. It means that he and Jenny cannot have a ‘normal’
relationship even outside work. As a result, the organisation will
lose two hardworking employees. This raises costs, reduces
profits, simply to maintain an image of “professionalism”. How
professional is an organisation that leaves its staff no option
except to resort to deceit and intrigue in order to lead a normal
life?
If we recall the conflicts earlier in the book, the claim of
“unprofessionalism” is recurrent.
Brenda felt it was
unprofessional for Ben to flirt with Hayley, or for John to consider
a relationship with a sales representative. Mark accused Amy of
unprofessionalism for talking about the nature of friendship
between men and women. Simon considered Andy’s relationship
with Gayle unprofessional.
In all these cases, others behaviour caused distress to the
accuser. But why? Logically, it can only cause distress if the
alleged targets of affection (i.e. those not receiving affection) are
thinking about the prospect of intimacy, or are jealous of the
intimacy enjoyed by others. Secondly, most examples show
women unable to understand the intent of men, and unwilling to
ask questions in order to clarify it. In some cases there was
sexual interest, but in other cases it was projected onto the men
by other women/men. In some cases the accusations were
clearly rooted in jealousy, and all are characterised by hypocrisy.
In most cases, accusers are trying to hide (from themselves or
others) the meaning and consequences of their own thoughts and
conduct.
While we can have sympathy for those people who felt
unsettled and intimidated by others (or their relationship
aspirations), was it reasonable to make accusations without
establishing the reason for, and nature of, their interest? In
earlier chapters, we established that women are as interested in
relationships (and sex) as men, and privately fantasise about this.
While the prevailing view is that women are particularly good at
intimacy and relationships, the above cases do not support this
contention. Let us consider for a moment why this may be the
case.

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Secrecy and Power
The pattern in both the Kakabadse’s study, and the cases
described in this book, is that both sexes, but women more than
men, are reluctant to express their feelings to the people they are
attracted to. Women are more willing than men, however, to
discuss their relationships with third parties.9 Moreover, when
either receives attention from others’ and wish to hide their own
feelings, they react either passively or aggressively. As a result
of the norms in most societies, this means women getting angry
at (or frightened of) men more often than the other way
around.10
These accord with the findings of a survey of over 2,000
women in which 60% of those attracted to a male work colleague
said they would not reveal their feelings to anyone – even their
best friend. Men who pick up on a woman’s feelings, and make a
sexual advance, may find – in 60% of cases – that they will be
faced with flat denial that the woman was interested. If you
remember, a 60% figure was also established by Dr MacGregor
with regard to false claims. In the Kakabadse’s study, the
“majority” (i.e. nearly 60%) of harassment claims were regarded
as unjustified. The 60% figure, perhaps, should be put to the
test in further studies.
It is, therefore, little wonder that men are often confused over
their own behaviour towards women. It may be that in around
60% of cases, they assessed the situation correctly only to be
told that they did not. Women’s reluctance to express, or admit,
their feelings is a hidden and potentially problematic management
issue when intimacy erupts into conflict. The conflict may be
created by the emotional defenses of those hiding their feelings
(not the behaviour that took place).
We also need data on the extent to which men hide their
feelings (or are able to keep them hidden) in the same contexts.
As women’s behaviours are largely non-verbal, they are more
deniable, and this makes men more vulnerable to accusations.
Until such time as people can discuss body language and
non-verbal communication as similar to verbal communication,
confusion and misdirection will reign (for this reason, I include
Appendix A – a summary of research into body language).
Some of the stories illustrate that “sexual advances” do not
indicate a strong wish for a sexual relationship. This was evident
in Andy’s comments regarding Gayle, Ben’s attitude to Hayley,

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and Amy’s comments to Mark. In the Kakabadse’s study, 21% of
respondents reported “intimate” relationships that were nonphysical (compared to 39% which were physical and 40% who
reported no intimate relationships at all). The primary problem
during relationship development – as we saw vividly throughout
earlier chapters - is how each party establishes the intent of the
other. One psychologist couched the problem as follows:
There is no such thing as a non-sexual relationship between
men and women, only sexual relationships in which both
parties agree not to have sex.11
And this is the crux of the problem – how do women and men
agree not to have (or have) sex when they like each other?12
The answer, ironically, is one of two ways: firstly, by developing
an intimate relationship that allows the parties to discuss their
feelings; secondly, through non-invasive flirting that enables each
party to gauge the interest of the other. Both these behaviours,
of course, can be considered harassment if one or other party
(mostly women) claim they are offended by the other. In short,
the way that men and women decide not to have sex is against
the law whenever one or other party decides to be offended after
feeling snubbed. It is no wonder, therefore, that handling such
issues at work are becoming more emotive and difficult to
manage.

Harassment
The Kakabadse’s study concluded the following with regard to
harassment:
Some of the harassment incidents reported are viewed as
unjustifiably made. It is considered that in the majority of
known harassment cases, the parties involved had entered
into the relationship willingly, with no evidence of undue
pressure made on one person by the other at that point.
What also comes out of this survey is that, in the eyes of
many, intimacy at work is basically not a problem, is on the
increase (or at least will not go away) and many report
improvements in work performance resulting from the
exhilaration of intimacy experiences. So, what is the problem
that requires treatment and attention? …The level of attention
given to sexual harassment in the academic literature and

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more popularly in the press and media is judged, from this
survey, as questionable. 13
Only 11% of respondents felt that managers handled these
problems well, and over half felt that managers should show
greater tolerance by handling cases individually. With regard to
frequency, the authors found that sexual harassment was
extremely rare, even less common than a consummated
homosexual relationship.
In terms of advice for professionals and managers, it is
oriented towards the development of sensitivity rather than
policies, guidelines or procedures.
What so clearly emerges from this study is that no one can
really tell you, the manager, or you the individual, what you
should or should not do. Introducing more policies is unlikely
to facilitate better quality working relationships, or discourage
people from pursuing physical intimacy in the workplace or
even reduce the number of harassment complaints. Assisting
managers to understand and thus become more skilful at
addressing personal sensitivities in the workplace, is the way
forward...
….the sensitivity and skill of each manager to facilitate a way
through emotionally complex situations is emphasised…In
order to deal with intimacy, the challenge in the eyes of
respondents is to determine just what is the problem at hand.
The occurrence of intimacy, of itself, is not viewed as a
concern.14
This book begins where the Kakabadse’s study ends. Their
study describes the situation we currently face, but stops short of
describing in detail how intimacy develops. In this book, I have
set out how intimacy develops as well as the ways that people
control and inhibit the development of intimacy. I show how it is
integrally linked to courtship (or courtship norms) as well as
social advancement and leadership. Let me conclude this issue
by commenting on the centrality of sexuality in working life.

The Centrality of Sexuality
In 1987, two researchers – Jeff Hearns and Wendy Parkin –
published their extensive review of a question that few people
were prepared to ask. What is the role of sex at work? Their

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book is a landmark for revealing how sexuality is “an ordinary and
frequent public process rather than an extraordinary and
predominately private process” and “part of an all-pervasive body
politic rather than a separate and discrete set of practices.” 15
On the whole, this particular book supports their conclusions.
While others attempt to make a distinction between sexual roles
and organisational roles16, and argue that sex – while important –
is not that important, this book supports the contention that
surface disputes are frequently underpinned by sexual tensions
between and among the genders, or rooted in deeply held sexual
attitudes about “appropriate” and “inappropriate” behaviour. It is
untenable – not to mention irrational - to argue that sexuality is
unimportant while expressing views that are deeply rooted in
sexual attitudes.
At a deeper level, however, is the issue of social acceptance.
Some of the cases in this book hinge more on the question of
whether a person is, or is not, accepted by their peers. While
their sexual behaviour might be used as a way of drawing them
in or pushing them out of a social group, the critical question is
whether a person is an “insider” or “outsider”. If they are an
“insider”, their sexual behaviour does not cause offence, and may
even be encouraged; if they are regarded as an “outsider” (or
recast as an “outsider” after previously being an “insider”) sexual
behaviour is reconstructed as inappropriate and morally
reprehensible. At this level, those who argue sex is not the most
important consideration may have a point, even if dispute
resolution is linked to sexual behaviours and attitudes.
The view I take, based on my own work, is that people are
intimacy seekers, rather than sex seekers. Intimacy – while often
linked to sexual behaviour – is conceptually different (a
relationship might be more intimate if less sexual, for example).
Intimacy, conceptually, is about being able to make private
feelings public and have them listened within a two-way
conversation. This is extremely valuable in a business context.
The ability to do this is not necessarily linked to sex, although a
considerable body of evidence indicates that being able to talk
freely to another contributes to sexual attraction.17 This is,
therefore, something of a chicken and egg argument – cause and
effect work in both directions. We want to talk to those we are
attracted to. We are attracted to those who are good at talking
and listening.

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Patterns in the Data
In looking back over all the cases in this book, there is a pattern
that recurs.
Around each person who displays leadership
qualities, or who is perceived by others to hold or be capable of
holding a leadership position, there are number of recurrent
findings:
• Larger numbers of exchanges - both social and financial –
that create emotional and material dependency. Leaders
(at all levels of an organisation) are at the nexus of
emotional and material life, whether they seek to be or
not.
• Leaders arouse stronger emotions (both inadvertently and
deliberately) as a by-product of entrepreneurial,
managerial and leadership behaviour.
• Those regarded as leaders attract relationships (both inside
and outside the workplace): these may be instrumental or
sexual, but they arouse jealousy and hostility as well as the
desire to love and care.
• In each relationship that is intended to be long-term, the
most productive dynamic is towards equity, reciprocity and
informality. This dynamic also creates mutual attraction.
• In each relationship that is not intended to be long-term,
the most productive dynamic is inequity, asymmetry and
formality. This dynamic inhibits mutual attraction.
Whatever philosophy we adopt and teach others, people
repeatedly win respect and love from others by demonstrating
their ability to take responsibility, contribute economically, and
handle social conflict. The platform for men and women to
demonstrate they can ‘perform’ these skills is overwhelmingly the
workplace. In as much as these qualities attract sexual partners,
and lead to long-term relationships, the behaviours can be
regarded as courtship rituals. What is more, employers generally
encourage such behaviours in managers and senior staff, and
promote them for it. This leads to greater sexual activity around
‘successful’ people for the simple reason that their behaviours are
attractive and sexy.

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While it is supposed that these are ‘masculine’ behaviours,
Betty Friedan found that sexual activity is also more common
amongst women who are successful in the workplace:
The transcendence of self, in sexual orgasm, as in creative
experience, can only be attained by one who is himself, or
herself, complete, by one who has realized his or her own
identity. In the years between the ‘emancipation’ of
women…and the sexual counter-revolution, American women
enjoyed a decade-by-decade increase in sexual orgasm. And
the women who enjoyed this most fully were, above all, the
women who went furthest on the road to self-realization,
women who were educated for active participation in the world
outside the home.18
Friedan links emotional maturity to engagement in the wider
world. Our identity is not something that we find alone; it is
something that we establish through our relationships with
others. Moreover, sexual knowledge, in particular the giving and
receiving of care and pleasure is not the most “primitive” part of
a human being. It is the most evolved aspect of humanity, a
place where we discover and reach the limits of our emotional
development:
…the most ‘emancipated’ women, women educated beyond
college for professional careers, showed a far greater capacity
for complete sexual enjoyment, full orgasm, than the rest. The
Kinsey figures showed that women who married before twenty
were least likely to experience sexual orgasm, and were likely
to enjoy it less frequently in or out of marriage, though they
started sexual intercourse five or six years earlier…19
What separates the two groups of women – in Friedan’s
argument – is education rather than the availability of sexual
contact. Friedan, however, assumes there is a cause and effect
link between education and sexual emancipation. What if the link
is the other way around? What if the capacity to get to know
people is the key to the development of social intelligence and
career success?
Some studies have found that skills that contribute to
intelligence and academic achievement are more strongly
correlated with patterns of communication in family life than
factors such as class, gender or ethnicity. People growing up in
families that debate issues freely develop children’s capacity for

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openness, self-reflection and intimacy20. These skills, in turn,
have been repeatedly linked to the critical judgement that
Like the argument about
develops general intelligence.21
intimacy and sex, the argument about intimacy and career
success is another chicken and egg situation because the benefits
are mutually reinforcing.
This provides an added incentive for managers to improve
their knowledge of sexuality and emotional development. As a
group, they are more sought after and more likely to have to
cope with close relationships than the people they manage.22
As Andy commented at the conclusion of his interview:
People wonder if the most efficient social structure is a man
supported by women who adore him, with other men who
accept subordination to his authority. I am not sure. That
arrangement is going to discriminate against a great many
men who will be eased out of the way. It also discriminates
against women (because they can’t ever get to be a leading
male).
What I have learnt, slowly, is that it also discriminates against
leading men who feel pushed into roles without seeking or
wanting them. I did not ask to be recognised as our manager
until it had been drummed into me by others that I was already
leading everything. It changed my self-image and probably
my behaviour. But once recognised as the leader, my
behaviour changed again because I expected to control
things. But others became more controlling too – and
criticised me much more. It caused resentment both ways.
I felt I resisted the ‘power and privilege’ normally taken for
granted by leading males because I thought it would create a
problem if I became too intimate with the women. What I now
realise is that the jealousy occurs anyway, whether physical
intimacy takes place or not. People thought that I was, or that
I wanted to be, having affairs with women at work. For me, it
was enough to enjoy the attraction, fantasies and dreams. If
there is shared knowledge of mutual attraction with a woman it
can be exciting, but the result is more often lasting friendship
than a sexual relationship. That is special in its own right.
If I had started a relationship it might have cost me my
marriage and family life. Even though I did not, others’
speculation upset both me and my wife – I still get extremely
angry about that. These are the most acute dilemmas we

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have faced, but somehow we managed to navigate through
them. People were hurt sometimes, including myself, but
more often a lot of goodwill was generated. Over the years,
respect and friendship has been a far more common outcome,
and my marriage is still a close one.23

The Case for Change
In discussing this book with a friend - a client for 16 years and a
life-long trade unionist - she told me a story that highlights the
need for new ways to investigate sexual conflict and the danger
of failing to investigate what lies behind people’s feelings in a
dispute.
Her son, Robert24, works for a trade union. A while ago,
Robert had to handle a complaint that Wendy had been sexually
assaulted by Martin, her co-worker, at an office party. Robert
took on the case and represented Wendy. Martin vehemently
protested his innocence: his wife would not believe him and his
marriage broke down. As Martin had been accused of a sexual
offence, his wife secured a court order to keep him away from his
children.
During this period, Robert’s doubts grew about Wendy’s story.
She had got drunk and, when questioned, could not (or would
not) recall what had happened to her. Eventually, she admitted
coming home late, and drunk, and having a row with her
boyfriend. Eventually, Wendy admitted she lied. She was
attracted to Martin but wanted to hide this from her boyfriend.
She felt trapped inside the process that her allegation had started
and was too afraid to admit the truth. She delayed. Martin,
however, having lost the wife and children sank into a deep
depression. He committed suicide.
When we leap too quickly to a person’s defence, a process
begins that affects many people. What occupied our minds as we
talked about this story in the pub was the unstoppability and
destructive power of an investigation process that, theoretically,
is designed to protect people. There is an urgent need for
investigators and managers to handle sexual conflict in a new
way. In the next section, some of the thoughts that were
generated by that conversation (and the book as a whole) are set
out.

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New Approaches to Handling Conflict
For a person attempting to understand a conflict, the question
that could start every investigation is “how is the accuser
hurting?” or “why does the accuser feel a need to make an
accusation?” It may be wise not to widen the scope of a dispute
until the circumstances of the accusation are understood. To
accuse, there must either be a moral principle at stake, an
interest that has to be defended, or an anger than seeks an
outlet. Initially – before shifting focus to the accused, establish
the balance between these three.
If possible, search back through events with the accuser to
trace any source of emotional hurt (remembering that it may
come from somewhere else in the accuser’s life and is not
necessarily the outcome of their relationship with the accused).
If you cannot shed any light, start to involve the accused.
Initially, you are still trying to understand the reason for the
accusation from the point of view of the accuser, not the
accused.
If you bring the parties together, let the parties be emotional
– it provides information. Avoid taking sides – the objective is
not blame. The objective is to stimulate dialogue so that you,
and they, can understand the source of emotional hurt and shed
light on the hidden dynamics of the conflict.
If you find yourself displaying emotions, consider how the
outcome of the dispute affects your own interests. Does your
emotionality betray a desire for a closer relationship with one
party? Is one party particularly important to achieving your own
personal (or organisational) goals and objectives?
Talk to
someone outside the dispute about your own emotions to shed
some light on them. No-one is completely impartial and you may
still be the best person to mediate.
If it is a gender dispute, remember that most men want close
relationships with women more than with other men, and women
want close relationships with men more than other women
(except for lesbian and gay women and men). “The other” is
often perceived as the source of emotional hurt but this does not
necessarily mean it is true. Hurt is a reflection of our own desire,
our own sense of loss. We hurt most when we cannot fulfil our
desires (and the bigger the gap between our desires and reality,
the greater our hurt). Find out, if possible, what event changed

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the relationship. What did each party say to the other? Could it
be an outcome of changes outside work?
If somebody is deeply distressed, establish if it comes from a
sense of loss (remembering always there is a 60% chance in the
case of a woman – and possibly also in the case of men – that
they will not divulge their sexual feelings under any
circumstances). Talk carefully. On a one-to-one basis, ask them
to describe the relationship from the beginning. This will give
you a sense of how the relationship evolved and changed.
Support people through loss. If no loss is found, find out why
people feel violated. Does the person need protection? If not,
then mediate as soon as possible. If yes, then seek professional
advice.
Both women and men hurt - it is not women’s or men’s problem
alone and can only be solved together. Men fear showing their
feelings, not always because they are ashamed, but because
experience has taught them that expressing feelings will lose
them the respect of the woman (or women) they currently want
to love them, or their male friends and colleagues. Women and
men teach men this by calling them “losers”, “wimps” or “sissy”
whenever they show feelings that reveal their vulnerability. Men
and women, on the other hand, teach women to be ‘submissive’
by rushing to comfort them when they become distressed. The
more beautiful the woman, the quicker people will seek to help.
Remember why!
Bear in mind that these responses are fairly automatic –
internalised during childhood/adolescence (in much the same way
as Pavlov and his dogs). They are continually reinforced during
courtship and through films, TV programmes, magazines, books
and stories.
They can also be unlearnt (see Chapter 2). Gendered
responses are not a good indicator of who is being truthful and
who is truly hurting. Women may cry to avoid having to talk.
Men may cry, but are more likely – due to cultural conditioning –
to become angry as a way to get (or deflect) attention.25 Both
crying and anger may be genuine or affected responses. They
may be honest or a “performance” to win hearts and minds.26

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When we know that women are no more likely to be physically
harmed in personal relationships than men27, our attitude to both
men and women changes. When we know that men’s feelings
are hurt as much as women’s, but they do not show this, our
attitude changes again. When we understand that women are
more creative and convincing liars (because they cannot resort so
readily to physical force to win their fights), and that men are less
good at hiding their lies (because they are punished more readily
and frequently for lying during childhood) our attitude changes
even more28. We start to understand that men need as much
protection from tale telling as women need from physical violence
or rape.
Women who understand men are no more inherently violent
than themselves will no longer feel a need for special protection.
Although they will continue to fear violence from men more than
from women, they will begin to understand this is the response of
any person who desires to be with them, but cannot be so. Men
who start to understand that women are as violent as themselves
will no longer feel such a need to give them special protection. If
they do, they will come to understand this as a product of their
desire to be a hero to the women who watch them, and part of
their own need to win approval from women.

The Case for Mediation
Mediation offers a solution that is consistent with the values and
goals of both democracy and gender equality.
It affords
protection to all the parties regardless of status, ethnicity or
gender. Critics of mediation (or “restorative justice” as it is called
in criminology) worry that mediation simply gives the perpetrator
another opportunity to intimidate the victim. At this stage,
however, it is not clear who is perpetrator and who is victim. The
apparent victim may be the perpetrator - it is the mediation
process that helps to determine this.29
Mediation is hard work – it may involve participants coming to
terms with deeply held prejudices, or face up to the full impact of
their behaviour on others. But it also gives them a chance to
explain their intent and for others to learn why they responded in
a particular way. The process may not be quick or easy. The
alternative, however, is a workplace culture – and society
generally – that pays lip service to fairness and equality but takes
refuge in defensive approaches to conflict.

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To support change, build the process of mediation into
employment and trading contracts30 so that investors and
entrepreneurs, employers and employees, customers and
suppliers, face penalties under the law for authoritarian
approaches to conflict resolution. These laws are the ones we
can create for ourselves for our own organisations – they are not
imposed by government statute. Consequently, no acts of
parliament need to be passed for these laws to come into effect –
they can be brought about by changes in management
understanding and practice.
This way, existing laws will stop favouring the party who
unilaterally withdraws and start favouring those committed to
reconciliation. The laws would start to reward compassion and
tolerance. Individual businesses taking initiatives to switch to
mediation as a tool of social control will be entrenching
democratic values without ever having to involve a politician!
What greater incentive do you need?

Compulsion and Conflict
The argument that nobody can be forced to mediate is a common
one. This is true. But should we reward people who will not
commit to mediation when it is unclear how the dispute started?
While an argument can be made that compelling people to enter
mediation is a waste of time, the current situation compels people
into conflict. Neither legal arrangement is neutral - both are
rooted in ideological commitments.
Mediation permits the employer to make equal opportunity a
reality at all levels in an organisation. It is a good way to protect
all parties and promote gender, racial and other forms of
equality. It does not presume which party is right, or seek to
make one party accept responsibility for conflict in advance of
discussing the emotional hurt that underpins the dispute. Nor
does it allow either party to walk away (whether accuser or
accused) and avoid accountability for their actions.
If mediation is required by contract, then refusal to mediate is
a breach of contract. This leaves the withdrawer liable for losses.
Nevertheless, mediation will only ever provide a partial solution,
not a complete one. How much balance there should be in the
legal instruments that govern a company is a matter of
judgement.

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The question for managers, directors, lawyers and politicians
is “which ideological commitments are most likely to improve
trade and civil society?” If the right to withdraw is considered
more important than the responsibility to engage, the party who
willingly commits to a relationship and seek solutions
collaboratively can be accused of ‘harassment’ simply for pursuing
an equitable outcome to a shared problem. To those with
democratic aspirations, the defensive “right” to withdraw is not
more important than the constructive “responsibility” to engage.
At present, a falsely accused party is coerced by the legal
options available to bring actions against people they like –
simply to achieve a modicum of justice. The legal route,
therefore, increases the division and fragmentation of our society
(to the financial benefit of lawyers). It does little to heal conflict
and promote social cohesion.
By making it prohibitively
expensive and difficult for people to practice democracy (i.e. the
right-to-reply, the responsibility to engage) the pursuit of a
democratic society is made more difficult.
Nothing here says that people must have relationships with
others, or that people cannot withdraw from relationships. What
it does encourage, however, is that withdrawal is negotiated and
undertaken in such a way that knowledge is generated. This is
respectful behaviour and allows people to process their emotions,
even if doing so means enduring some pain.
An option to unilaterally withdraw must remain. It will be
essential for those in abusive relationships, or in relationships
where one party will not consent to the withdrawal of the other
after mediation. The law, however, will do more good than harm
if it permits unilateral withdrawal only when equity cannot be
established by mediation.

Broader Political Issues
At present, the foundation of our legal-rational society is rooted
in the principle of self-defence, buttressed by a court system that
adjudicates and judges disputes. This system, however, has
recently (i.e. over the last 200 years) been imbued by
individualist philosophy to the point that personal sovereignty,
rather than community relationships, has taken centre stage.
Personal sovereignty is important, but not to the exclusion of
community relationships (any more than ‘community’ can be used

Coping Strategies

237

to exclude personal rights). The struggle, always, is to achieve
both.
By constructing the world differently, we can change our place
and the practices within it.
This starts with a changed
understanding of the way sexual desire influences our lives. The
most critical decision each of us makes – one that affects the way
we see the world and other people in it – is whether to have, or
not have, a relationship that leads to children. When we talk of
the battle between the sexes, we miss that human life is
overwhelmingly guided by the desires of men to be with women,
and women’s to be with men. These desires permeate all aspects
of our culture making it hard to see their impact.
For those who may think I am marginalizing lesbian and gay
couples, this is not my intention. Around 10% of men and
women have such relationships at some point in their life, but
only 1-2% of all sexual activity is between people of the same
sex.31 Heterosexuality dominates our culture for the simple
reason that the majority of men/women want children at some
time in their life.
When men and women do have children together, their
biology impacts more strongly on their lives. Generally, men
intensify their commitment to wealth-creation (because they
cannot suckle their child) while women intensify their
commitment to childraising (because they can suckle their child).
It does not have to be so, but there are many good health
reasons for continually reproducing this division of labour (at least
in the short term)!
In most households, the arrival of a child is accompanied by a
drop in joint income. For this reason, wealth-creating skills
become critically important at the very time the household
workforce is temporarily cut in half! It is for this reason that
higher earning men have more children (and are pursued more
as sexual partners). This division of labour cannot be abolished
without preventing men and women from raising their own
children. No human society has (yet) thrived under a political
system that denies parents the right to raise their children. In
my view, no such society could ever thrive.
As men and women work together to raise children, they have
to contend with two ways of looking at the world. One way is to
prioritise human reproduction and see work as ‘a job’ to support
the family. The other way is to prioritise ‘wealth creation’ and

238

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

see the world of home as something that provides future workers
for additional wealth creation. In 2005, I constructed these two
views to illustrate the impact they have on each other.32
For those whose priority is human reproduction, the world
takes on the following character:
Figure 7 – Economic Life from a Socially Rational Perspective
Economic Life

Social Life
Celebrity Elite

No Need to Do Paid Work

Primary Carer

Women

Part-Time Paid Work
(Necessity)

At

ct
io
n

Delegate Caring (if desired)

At

n
io
ct

tra

tra

Secondary Carer

ct

ct
io
n

tra
n
io

tra

At

No Dependents

Men

At

Men

Human Reproduction

Full-Time Paid Work
(Necessity)

Full/Part-Time Paid Work
(Choice)

Women
No Family Life

Dispossesed

No paid work / illegal trading

In Figure 7, only the celebrity elite can avoid working. In
other households, even primary carers find a way to contribute to
wealth creation. Secondary carers are primarily concerned with
wealth creation as their contribution to child raising. This affects
their emotional connection to family life.
Those with no
dependents have more choices. Usually, single people embed
themselves in workplaces or friendship networks, but in some
cases the loss of family life creates an enduring sense of
disconnection.
This perspective contrasts with the one in
Figure 8.

Coping Strategies

239

Figure 8 – Social Life from an Economically Rational Perspective
Economic Life

Social Life

Delegate Work (if desired)

Business Elite

No Need to Do Caring

Men

Secondary Caring Role
(Necessity)

Primary/Secondary Caring Role
(Choice)

io
ct

At
tra

tra

Professional Class

At

ct
io
n

Managerial Class

n

Primary Caring Role
(Necessity)

Administrative Class

n
io
ct

tra
ct
io
n

Primary/Secondary Caring Role
(Choice)

At

tra
At

Labouring Class

Women
Wealth Creation

Women

Men
Underclass (No paid work / illegal trading)

Dispossesed

No Caring Role

In Figure 8, the elite are constituted by those whose wealth
creates further wealth sufficient to live off the proceeds. These
elites are small, however. Others have to work. The best paid
careers are in management and the professions. Management,
however, is a full-time occupation that prevents people from
playing anything other than a secondary role in childraising. The
professions can be more flexible (particularly later in life) allowing
couples to share childraising if they wish.
People in the
administrative and labouring classes – because they are involved
in the repetitive tasks associated with direct production – more
often regard friendship networks, human reproduction and
childraising as sources of emotional stimulation and well-being.
The unacknowledged aspect of the gender debate is the way
men divide women into those they will and will not support at
home, while women divide men into those they will and will not
support at work. The balance can change, individual couples can
choose how to divide their responsibilities, but institutions in
society tend to reinforce divisions of labour created during the
early months of childraising.
Moreover, men and women
frequently seek to confirm or develop their social identity through
commitment to (or by fighting against) their biological role.

240

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Presenting these outlooks helps us to understand that neither
is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’: both are required to raise future generations.
We need a constant debate about the dividing line and the way
that men and women accept or allocate responsibilities. My
preference is that the dividing lines should be as flexible as
possible and always open to debate. Under these conditions, I
believe that both human emancipation and economic efficiency
become more possible. Others argue, however, that people
should be encouraged toward roles ‘intended’ by nature (i.e. a
biological norm) or one determined by religious faith (i.e. a moral
norm).
From a human rights and democratic perspective,
however, the benevolence of these positions needs to be carefully
evaluated.

Leaders, Performers and Followers
The second way to reconstruct the world is to change the way we
understand the relationship between performers, leaders and
followers. Think of the last time your saw dolphins performing
tricks at an aquarium, or on the television. The audience is all
around – almost like a political rally, pop concert or sporting
event. The audience marvel at how well the dolphins are trained,
how intelligent they are, how they have human-like intelligence.
The cleverer the tricks they perform, the more the audience is
amazed, the more it claps. And when the performance is over,
the dolphins are regarded as the stars: they are the attraction
that draws in the crowds.
We know, however, that the dolphins will not be released back
to the wild while their performances can draw in the crowds. In
fact, the better their performance, the less likely it is that they
will be allowed to run free again. They are in captivity and will
remain so until their captors – people who are generally not in
the public eye – agree to let them go or ‘the market’ demands to
see dolphins in the wild rather than in captivity. The dolphins, in
this analogy, are performers. They draw the applause.
Imagine that one dolphin – a particularly intelligent dolphin –
decides not to cooperate. This dolphin decides that there are
better things to do with his or her life than perform tricks to
obtain applause. How will they appear to others? They might
appear to be rebelling. They might even appear to be sick.
Those who train the dolphin - perplexed at the transformation in
this dolphin’s behaviour – may not grasp that the dolphin may

Coping Strategies

241

simply want to be as free as they are, or to follow different goals
than those that have been prescribed without their consent. How
might the trainer react to a dolphin with ‘no discipline’ (i.e. one
intelligent enough to want something better than a life
performing tricks). They might put the dolphin in a zoo (i.e.
restrain or imprison it). They might destroy the dolphin (i.e.
murder it).
Can the most intelligent people in society be compared to the
dolphins that will not be trained? We are slower to applaud those
who perform tricks less often and less readily. When we
characterise a person concerned with their own emancipation as
‘selfish’ perhaps we miss what it is that promotes human
freedom. Where dolphins are concerned, we never mistake the
performance of tricks as a sign of either “freedom” or
“leadership”, not matter how much the dolphin may seem to be
enjoying the performance. We realise in an instant that no
matter how well they are treated, no matter how much money
they attract, no matter what standard of luxury accommodation
they have at their disposal, they are still captives performing for
the rest of us.
So it is with sports stars, rock stars, political leaders and
“charismatic” businesspeople. They have been trained. They
may be intelligent, but their intelligence may not extend as far as
understanding that their vanity is exploited to increase their
performance efforts. Many burn-out performing for others.
Others realise before they burn out. It is a serious intellectual
mistake to consider them leaders, even though they may obtain
the trappings of success.
Ralph finally realised this (see Chapter 5). With a push from
his wife Ginny, he finally started to contemplate how deeply he
had been trained. Once the penny dropped, however, he found
that he was ridiculed by his fellow “leaders” (which is what
exposes them as followers rather than leaders!) Ralph gained the
respect of other men from all social classes who appreciated his
growing self-awareness. He also gained the respect of his wife.
Together they started to look at the world in a new way – one in
which they started to see the shallow rhetoric of stardom and
performance. They began to realise that their working lives were
similar to a Big Brother TV show – a “reality show” for the
amusement and satisfaction of others’ financial and emotional
gain. Their own rewards, however, were pegged to their capacity

242

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

to entertain (regardless of whether the product of their
performance was really needed or not).
A long term goal worth striving for, however, is to achieve as
much independence as possible so that we can spend as much
time as possible with the people, and doing the things, we love.
This might be at work, at home, or a combination of both. It
does not necessarily require that we scale the ladders of the
corporate world to reach the top – there are few places on earth
where a person has less independence. We each need to
develop sufficient craft that we can assemble, and become part
of a social network that we wish to support, and which wishes to
support us. This goal is within the reach of most of us. With
greater tolerance for diversity, it should be within reach of more
of us. It does not require big business or huge government
interventions to be achieved (just their political support and
tolerance).

Powerful Relationships are Tolerant
Enforcing equality – indeed enforcing anything – is not usually
the best solution because it destroys the natural enthusiasm that
people have for each other and the things they like to do
together.
We do not need quotas to ensure equality of
opportunity. Rather, we need the reverse - that such policies are
eliminated so that institutional energies divert from enforcement
(of rules, behaviours, ideologies) towards mediation and
dialogue.
In this way, social values and systems of governance will start
to be flexible rather than dogmatic, democratic rather than
totalitarian, and will reflect diverse personal and shared
ideologies.
Reflection will gradually replace blame and
judgement: rules will give way to interpersonal sensitivity. We
can then, hopefully, see some shrinkage in the legal profession in
favour of trading organisations that contribute to the quality of
our lives as well as the wealth of our communities.
The result could be substantial and continuing differences in
the lifestyles of men and women that may not please political,
corporate or thought-leaders. Or we may find that free from
institutional interference women and men choose lifestyles that
become more equitable.
Whichever, behind statistics that
suggest discrimination will be personal choices emanating from
the fusion and tension created by our desire for intimacy and

Coping Strategies

243

social advancement. As more autonomy – within the bounds of
equitable relationships – becomes possible, emotional
development will increase our capacity for social democracy.
Economic life within the firm, not just in the marketplace, will
start to be determined by the aspirations of the many rather than
the control of the few.

244

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Notes on Chapter 7
1

Kakabadse, A., Kakabadse, N. (2004) Intimacy: International Survey
of the Sex Lives of People at Work, Palgrave. The authors distinguish
between emotional and physical intimacy in their study, but their
definition is restricted to sexual relationships. In my own work, I
argue that intimacy is broader than this – that it can apply to nonsexual same-sex relationships as well as sexual relationships.
Goldberg describes intimate relationships between men as being
‘buddies’ – he devotes a chapter to the lost art of buddyship in his
book “The Hazards of Being Male”.

2

ibid, p. 57

3

ibid, pp. 72-73

4

ibid, p. 62

5

ibid, p. 88

6

ibid, p. 90

7

ibid, p. 124

8

ibid, p. 78

9

Farrell, W. (1986) Why Men Are The Way They Are, London, Bantam
Books, Chapter 5 (“Why Men Don’t Listen”). In a later book “Women
Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say”, the author reports that it can take
as long as 6 months of group support or therapy before men develop
sufficient trust to reveal their true feelings about intimate
relationships.

10

Public anger and fear, that is. For a discussion of men’s fear of
women see Lynne Segal’s “Slow Motion: Changing Men: Changing
Masculinities”, or Warren Farrell’s “Why Men Are The Way They Are”.
Much ‘macho’ behaviour is a way to hide fear. The fear does not go
away, however, it gets internalised and later surfaces in medical
conditions such as ulcers and heart attacks.

11

This comment was made to me by a qualified psychologist at one of
my research sites. To protect the identity of the company, the name
of the psychologist will not be divulged.

12

The same dilemmas occurs in same-sex (lesbian and gay)
relationships.

Coping Strategies

245

13

Kakabadse, A., Kakabadse, N. (2004) Intimacy: International Survey
of the Sex Lives of People at Work, Palgrave, p. 5

14

ibid, Chapter 4 summaries advice to managers, and recommendations
for management training.

15

Hearn, J., Parkin, W. (1987) Sex at Work: the power and paradox of
organisation sexuality, Wheatsheaf, p. 57

16

Ackroyd, S., Thompson, P. (1999) Organizational Misbehaviour, Sage
Publications, Chapter 6.

17

Aronson, E. (2003) The Social Animal, Ninth Edition, New York: Worth
Publishers, Chapter 8.

18

Friedan, B. (1963) The Feminine Mystique, Penguin Books, p. 282,
284

19

ibid, p. 284

20

Huang, Li-Ning (1999) “Family Communication Patterns and
Personality Characteristics”, Communication Quarterly, , ProQuest
Education Journals, 47(2): 230-243

21

Moutafi, J. et al. (2002) “Demographic and personality predictors of
intelligence: a study using the Neo Personality Inventory and the
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator”, European Journal of Personality, 17(1):
79-94.

22

Buss, D. (1994) The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating,
New York: Basic Books

23

Adapted from post-interview comments by Andy and Pauline,
rechecked with the interviewees.

24

As with all the other cases, the names are fictional to hide true
identities.

25

Pease, A., Pease, B. (2003) Why Men Lie and Women Cry, Orion.

26

Goffman, E. (1969) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life,
Harmondsworth: Penguin.

27

This is a finding in western cultures only. In African, Asian and Far
Eastern cultures, findings vary, but the few English language studies
available indicate that women are more likely to be harmed than men.

246

28

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

O’Connell, S. (1998) An Investigation into How We Learn to Love and

Lie, Doubleday.
29

Roche, D. (2003) “Gluttons for restorative justice”, Economy and
Society, 32(4): 630-644. This interesting article reviews two leading

texts by criminologists on research into restorative justice. Concerns
remain, but in the context of sexual disputes there is one particularly
interesting finding. The restorative justice schemes that have been
most successful are those where the ‘crimes’ trigger the strongest
emotions. As sexual disputes evoke particularly strong emotions, this
strengthens the case for restorative justice when they occur.
30

And Company Law perhaps, as a way of rebuilding confidence in
corporate governance!

31

Johnson, A. M., Mercer, C. H., Erans, B., Copas, A. J., McManus, S.,
Wellings, K., Fenton, K. A., Korovessis, C., Macdowell, W., Nanchahal,
K., Purdon, S., Field, J. (2001), “Sexual behaviour in Britain:
Partnerships, Practices, and HIV risk behaviours”, The Lancet, 358:
1835-1842. This study shows that just over 60% of men/women
were in committed relationships in the year 2000, the same
percentage as a decade before. Despite media publicity promoting
‘singledom’ as a lifestyle, combining the number of unmarried and
marriage couples shows that the number of people in “committed”
relationships is unchanged. Homosexual encounters are a much lower
percentage of all sexual activity than the percentage of people
reporting they have had homosexual relationships. This is because
people experiment with homosexuality while still practising
heterosexuality most of the time.

32

Ridley-Duff, R. J. (2005) Communitarian Perspectives on Corporate
Governance, Sheffield Hallam University.

Closing Thoughts

247

Chapter 8 - Closing Thoughts….
Conclusions
The management strategies suggested throughout this book
involve a number of inter-related actions.
To understand
ourselves as social beings, we must once again connect how our
emotional, sexual and material desires are interlinked by:
• Understanding the relationship between emotion and
action.
• Committing to mutual understanding, not blame or “truth”,
on questions of social organisation.
• Committing to supporting both parties in emotive disputes,
so that all parties develop their social knowledge.
• Committing to mediation, not discipline and punishment, in
sexual, tribal or racial conflicts, with the goal of mutual
understanding.
• Committing to understanding our own motives and
interests before punishing others.
These principles change the source of professional advice that
supports a business. In particular, the strategy implies:
• Reduced use of lawyers to advise on handling relationship
and contractual disputes.
• Use of educational specialists to develop understanding of
cultures and relationship dynamics.
• Changes to practices, policies and legal documents
(company
constitutions,
employment
contracts,
procurement contracts) to reward conflict resolution
through mediation.
• Changes to legal documents
withdrawal before mediation.

to

penalise

unilateral

248

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

In terms of governance, the principle of choice can be
extended into the social fabric of the organisation by:
• Decentralising governance structures and creating separate
bodies
for
operational,
social
and
strategic
decision-making.
• Electing governors to create ‘authority loops’ rather than
‘hierarchies’ of control.
• Supporting ideologies and values that embrace diversity
rather than conformance.
The ability to overcome adversity through dialogue is the
foundation of any lasting relationship, business partnership and a
democratic society. The result, however emotionally satisfying,
should not be mistaken for utopian bliss and social harmony.
Democracy exposes the dirt as well as the gold in our hearts.
Turning this to advantage is a skill, one that is hard won and
difficult to sustain. Well organised democracies preserve their
commitment to diversity and allow dissent. Nor do its advocates
ever confuse dissent with disloyalty. They support robust, vibrant
and noisy debate in decision-making and the production of new
knowledge. Into this bear pit I contribute these pages in the
hope that it will encourage you to contribute your own.

Appendix A – Body Language
Introduction
It is possible to spot emotions in people and yourself by being aware of
combinations of speech, vocal, body language and facial codes. The notes
below were made in preparation for anthropological field work by reading a
number of books on body language, particularly Lillian Glass’s book on codes
of communication. These are not the only, or necessarily the best, just the
ones that I found most helpful in understanding non-verbal ways that people
communicate in Anglo-American cultures. The gestures are less reliable for
Southern European, African and Asian cultures. Other books include Body
Language, by Alan Pease, and The Definitive Guide to Body Language, by Alan
and Barbara Pease and People Watching: The Desmond Morris Guide to Body

Language.

Honesty/Openness:

Speech: Generous praise, care that what is said is appropriate in
circumstances, gets to the point, co-operative, compassionate,
interested (not trying to be interesting)

Voice: Deep, lively, varied pitch, robust tone, conveying emotion
Body: Learning towards or to one side, palms showing, fingers

extended, relaxed arms or arms behind back or head, feet
together, legs apart, not crossed or crossed knee on knee in
comfortable position, no make-up (women only), hair groomed
forward, tasteful clothes

Face: Smiling with both cheeks raised, relaxed eyes, soft gaze,
strong direct eye contact

Attraction:

Speech: (as above – but with additional body/face behaviours)
Voice: (as above - but with additional body/face behaviours)
Body: (as above accompanied by...) copying or mimicking body

movements, body aligned with feet to face person, sideways
glancing with head lowered, quick left to right glancing, shoulder
shrugging (women only)

Face: (as above accompanied by...) frequent eye contact -

particularly a relaxed gaze held for more than 2 seconds, smiling
while raising/dropping eyebrows quickly.

250
Hostility/Jealousy:

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Speech: "I was only kidding" behaviour. Saying few words, or not
answering questions. Gossiping. Cursing.

Voice: Rising pitch, increasing volume, deliberate softness or

loudness, sudden bursts of loudness, nasal, deliberate slowness

Body: Standing too close, quick movement forward of head or
body, arms akimbo, clenched fists, crushing handshake.

Face: Deadpan staring unflickering eyes, jutting chin, tight
scrunched up eyes, gulping (combined with tight eyes).

Disrespect/Dislike:

Speech: Slang or curse words, limited verbal repertoire, politically
incorrect language. "Cut You Down" behaviour, failure to listen,
talking without listening, unsettling innuendo.

Voice: Forced low pitch, loudness, loud bursts, nasal, harsh,
gravely tones, slow or deliberate speaking
Body: Standing too far away, leaning back, head retracting or

shaking, closed posture (arms crossed, legs crossed above knee,
turning body away), squeezing/pinching nose, calm talking with
clench fist, walking with chin raised.

Face: Smile with dropped cheeks, avoiding gaze, gaze with lowered
knitted eyebrows, gulping while listening (with deadpan eyes),
hand to mouth while listening, lip biting and head shaking while
listening.

Lying/Holding Back:

Speech: Indirect explanations, over full explanations, hesitation,
repeating words, stuttering, over complimentary, mumbling.

Voice: Nasal, breathy or harsh/gravely voice, dull/lifeless tone, over
sweet sugary tone.
Body: Quick involuntary shoulder shrug, hidden, tense, folded away
hands, ankle locking, legs crossed above knee, foot on heel or side.

Face: Phoney smile (cheeks not raised), touching eye, nose or
mouth while speaking, clenched fist with calm voice, licking lips
while talking
Doubting/Disbelief:

Body: Rocking, fidgeting, side-to-side head movement, crossed

arms/legs (above knee), stiff thumb or forming a fist with hand,
pinching or squeezing nose, putting fingers to mouth, foot locking,
ankle locking,

Face: Deadpan expression, smiling (cheeks not raised), eyes wide

with lips apart, single raised eyebrow, eye look up to ceiling,
avoiding eye contact, gulping, knitted eyebrows, laughing (without
smile), hand touches mouth or eye, rubbing cheek, rubbing ear
between thumb and forefinger.

Appendix A
Fear/Insecurity:

251

Speech: Self-praise, joke telling, talking without listening, giving

private information, long words, conciliatory behaviour, putting self
down, diminishing own achievements.

Voice: High pitched or soft voice, sexy/breathy voice, talking too
fast, pitching up at end of sentence.

Body: Rocking, fidgeting, constant nodding, slumped shoulders,

'posing', crossed arms, playing with pen/jewellery, touching face,
pinching nose, trendy sexy or loud clothing, hair combed to side,
changing hairstyles, bitten nails, over-meticulous grooming

Face: Excessive blinking, avoiding eye contact, inappropriate
smiling/laughing.

Feeling Intimidated:

Speech: "Cut you down" behaviour, contradicting, "I don't know",
short answers, avoiding answers.

Voice: Shaky
Body: Closing off, withdrawing (crossing arms, turning away), foot
locking, 'get-me-out-of-here' posture, hunched walk

Face: Deadpan expression, breaks a gaze and eyes go down,

avoiding eye contact, lowering eyebrows, inappropriate laughing,
retracting chin to rest on neck.

252

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Speech Code
Category

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

(Possible) Meanings

Great
Communication

Generous, Kind,
Careful, Appropriate,
Succinct, Listener,
Co-operative,
Compassionate

Concerned about
person to whom
they are speaking.
Interested, rather
than interesting.
Nothing to prove.

Honesty, sincerity,
good/terrific person

I Was Only
Kidding

Playful
Sarcasm/Rudeness,
Cutting Humour

"Only kidding";
"Where's your
sense of humour?";
"Lighten up”; “Can’t
you take a joke?"

Hostility, jealousy, negative
feelings, suppressed anger.

Verbally
Unconscious

Unaware or ignorant,
distracted, outdated
language

Slang or curse
words, limited
verbal repertoire,
politically incorrect
language

Disrespect, low regard for
others

Contradictor

Contradicts another,
seeks to embarrass or
compete

Constantly
contradict what is
said by others

Insecure, mean-spirited,
disrespectful, feeling
threatened.

Cut-You-Downer

Compliment followed
by qualification that
undermines it, or
make undermining
comments

Use of absolutes
"never", "always",
black and white
terms, talking at
(not with) people

Disrespect, jealousy,
feeling threatened

Chatterbox

Talks Constantly,
won't allow others
time to speak

Don't wait for
answers,
insensitivity to
others, trouble
getting off the
phone

Distracted, can't confront
feelings, narcissist, fear of
abandonment

Gossiper

Speaks ill of others

Distort what is said

Adds disparaging
comments

Unable to keep a
secret

Jealous, sneaky,
competitive, duplicitous,
may want to hurt or
destroy

Flit from topic to topic

Short attention
span. only seems
happy when
conversation
centred on self

Topic Flitter

Changes conversation
to self
Difficult to follow

Narcissism, selfish,
manipulative

Appendix A

253

Category

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

(Possible) Meanings

My, Myself, and
I

Compulsive need to
talk about self

Attention seeking,
may use humour to
attract attention,
talk about self,
children/family ad
nauseam

Insecurity

Asks invasive
questions

Rude or digging for
gossip, blunt or
over familiar

Competitive

Tell too much, tells
private information

Insensitive to
listeners wishes,
Not sensitive to
social boundaries

Insecure and wish to bond

Don't get to the point

Longwinded
explanations,
convoluted Words

Internal fear

Self-praise

Busybody

Tell All

Beat-Around-the
Bush

Too-Blunt

Indirect about wishes

I Don't Know

Manipulative

Seeking approval

Like status quo

Unclear about wishes

conciliatory
behaviour

Unaware of
words/comments

Speak mind without
thinking, over
honest

Psychologically immature

Fearful of upsetting
anyone or being
centre of attention,
minimise own
achievements, won't
accept praise

"Sorry to intrude
but..."

Fearful

Won't commit to an
opinion
Sit on fence

"Yep" (without
elaboration)
"Nope" (without
elaboration)
"I don't know"
(when asked
opinion)

Undiplomatic
Self-Effacing

Selfish, self-serving

"I am sorry to take
up your time but..."

Possible bully?

Low self-esteem
Passive-Aggressive
manipulator

"It was not
difficult...."

Intimidated
Insecure
Fearful

254

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Category

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

(Possible) Meanings

Liar

Indirect

"Let me be honest
with you...."

Not being truthful

Unnecessarily full
explanations
Unexpected hesitation
Too
complimentary/over
sweet compliments

"Um, er..."
Repeating words or
slips of the tongue

Problems with /w /r
/s or /z

Distracted?
Holding back
Manipulative

Lisper

Lisping

Immaturity/psychological
trauma when young
(caution, could be dental).

Ethnic
Flavouring

Overuse of jargon or
culture specific terms

Wish to exclude you

Slang

Overuse of slang
terms

Behind the times
Excluding
Need to belong

Tangent

Tell you more than
you need to know
Going off on tangents
when speaking

Stutter/Stammer

Repeating first word
or syllable

Not giving simple or
straightforward
explanations

Not being truthful

Hesitation

Lying or withholding

Long pause

(NOTE: Disagreement
amongst experts)

Repetition
Mumbler

Unclear or quiet
speech

Seek to avoid
spotlight
Speak too quietly to
be heard

Feeling guilty

Low self-esteem, shy/timid,
embarrassed, hiding
something?

(Use compassionate
loving tones!)
Fragmented

Speaks in fragments

Hard to follow train
of thought

Brain dysfunction?
Drug reaction?

Illogical statements
Hesitator

Takes too long to
answer, or stops in
mid-sentence

Timid, insecure, lying?,
Perfectionist? On
medication?

Appendix A

255

Category

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

(Possible) Meanings

Chronic
Complainer

Moaning and
groaning....

Feeling 'wronged'

Worrier, Unappreciative,
Destructive

Finding fault in people
and things....
Few Words

Short answers to
questions

Afraid of being hurt, past
trauma?

Not giving answers

Inner rage/hostility

Difficulty handling
change

Self-absorbed/selfconscious

Failure to listen

Using big words

Snob

Talking without
listening

Speaking over
slowly

Feel superior

Don't share opinions
Too quiet

Condescending

Ask for help but
then contradict

Controllers

"You should..." or
"You had better..."
Verbal Instigator

Saying unsettling
things
Innuendo that annoys

Nagger

Interrupter

Comments aimed at
getting someone
into trouble

Two-faced
Aiming to upset

Nagging behaviour

"Why must you..."

Control freak

Critical comments

"Why do you...."

(Main reason couples end
up in therapy and get
divorced!)

Interrupt other people
before finishing
sentence

Continue even if
interrupted person
gets annoyed....

Control freak/Bully

Attention seeking
use of expletives

Want to be hip

Talking over people
Curser

Feel miserable

Using curse words to
sound hip or tough

Self-absorbed and
unaware, selfish? Fearful?
(core problem?)

Keeping people at bay
Inner hostility
Bully/Control freak?

256

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Vocal Code
Be aware that meanings are what people perceive rather than what those
saying may be feeling.
Category

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

(Possible) Meanings

Style

Deep vocal tone,
lively, varied pitch,
conveying emotions,
robust.

Voice sounds attractive

Trustworthiness

Too High

Associated with sexual
problems

Pitch

Confidence

Pitch rises when angry
or upset
Forced Too Low

Volume

Too Soft

Immaturity
Stifled emotional growth
Insecurity, anger or fear

Associated with
insincerity

Obnoxious

Others asking for
speaker to repeat

Hidden Anger (if deliberate)

Appearance of shyness

Pompous

Feeling of unworth
Sadness
Powerlessness

Too Loud

Associated with anger

Pompous

Maybe from a large
family

Arrogant/Controlling
Bullying/Competitive
Anger (Internal or External)

Fading Out

Quality

Shaky

Associated with
frustration, and an
inability to follow
through thoughts and
actions
Could be due to
medication
Timid or paranoid
behaviour
Turning red if put on
spot

Low self-esteem
Not manipulative/controlling
Will not complete tasks
Upset or Nervous
Worrying
Fearful of Life
Wanting approval

Appendix A

Category

257

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

(Possible) Meanings

Vocal Attacker

Sudden loud bursts

Anger

Little shocks (in
conversation)

Aggression, competitiveness

Arouse humour in
others

Defensiveness

Nasal Whiner (Jaw
moves)

Butt of jokes

Aggression
Obnoxious or complaining

Perceived as unaware
Harsh/Gravelly

May evoke instant
dislike

Aggression
Controlling
Bossy or Bullying
Angry

Sexy or Breathy

Frenetic or Manic
Tones

Too Fast

Seductive tone

Game playing

(Be cautious if used
with several people –
maybe genuine if
restricted to one
person)

Manipulative

Exhausting to listen to

Controlling

(Can be due to
chemical imbalance)

Attention Seeking

Insulting
Untrustworthy
Lacking confidence

Not Compassionate

Motivating (in short
burst)

Selfish

Energetic

Anger

Can be due to growing
up in large family

Anxiety
Anger
Insecurity
Driven/Ambitious

Agitated

Choppy/Staccato

Having 'attitude'

Chip on shoulder

Argumentative tone

Looking for fight

Short simple sentences

Inflexibility
Self-righteous
Headstrong
Judgemental

258

Category

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

(Possible) Meanings

Nasal Whiner (No Jaw
Movement)

Associated with
stinginess, being
uptight

Angry/Complaining

Sounding Dull/Lifeless

Not in touch with
emotions

Apathy, uncaring, repressed

Can be associated with
depression or sadness

Pent-up rage

low self-esteem.
Passive-aggressive – could
be indication of dishonesty

May make others angry
Sugary Sweet

Pitching Up

Incongruent behaviours

Duplicitous

Double messages

Untrustworthy

Maybe 'Uptalk' – tone
used by teenagers
within a peer groups.

Tentative
Insecure
Lack of confidence

Too Slow/Deliberate

Continuing even if
audience is bored
Could be due to
neuromotor condition
or medication.

Poor self-esteem
Arrogant
Hostility (if persistent)
Sadness

Appendix A

259

Body Language Code
Category

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

(Possible) Meanings

Overview

Leaning

Towards....

Interest or attraction

Sideways....

Friendliness

Away....

Boredom/Discomfort

Zone Stepping

Can be cultural

Invasion =
Advance/Hostility/Unawareness

Standing Too Far
Away

Offended by you, what is
said, smell, look

Arrogant/Snobby, dislike, feeling
threatened

Mirroring
Movements

Copying movement of
person speaking

Closeness or love, falling in love
(if mutual)

Rocking Back
and Forth

Relieves anxiety

Impatience or Anxiety (relief
from)

Fidgeting

Restlessness

Nervousness or irritation

Head Tilting

Tilting to Side

Interest/Have attention

Head Jerking

Jerking away

Something does not please
(automatic reaction)

Head Nodding

"Yes" Mode

Desire to be liked (if constant)
Insecurity, fear of rejection

"Side to side"

Doubt/Reluctance/Deciding

Head Bowing

(if not cultural)

Unsure, unhappy, low selfesteem

Head Trusting
Forward

Forward....

Aggressive, threatened

Shaking/Trusting Back....

Disdain or arrogance

Head Scratching
Shoulder
Shrugging

Confusion
If very quick, then sign of
lying

Untruthful or Indifferent
Approachability/Feeling Sexy

Unhurried, by a woman....
Posture

Slumped Over

Rounded shoulders....

Resignation, low selfconfidence, depression

If consistently.....

Withdrawing from situation or
life

If temporary....

Uninterested

260

Category

Arms

Hands

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

(Possible) Meanings

Lunging Forward

Associated with fight
response

Anger (particularly if neck
extended)

Rigid

Authoritarian behaviour

Uptight or Inflexible

Poser

Appear snobby, but
actually….

Insecure, self-conscious,
narcissistic

Closed

Cross arms over chest, or
legs above the knee

Dislike or disagree

Neutral

Folded hands in front or
in lap, crossed legs

Undecided

Bored

Turning away (head or
body), leaning back

Bored (particularly if head rests
on hand)

Crossed

Closing off behaviour,
withdrawing

Defensiveness, discomfort,
protecting

Akimbo

Hands on hips, elbow
protruding

Stay away/Don't mess
(aggressive stance)

Open

Arms behind back

Confidence

Flailing

In west (not
Mediterranean/Middle
Eastern)

Highly emotional/extremely
angry

Hidden

Also indicated by putting
hands put into pockets

Hiding information

Angry

Clenched – look for
thumb. Jerky movements

Anger (if thumb hidden, then
feels threatened)

Lying

Less expressive, hidden
or folded away, tension

Lying or suppressing strong
emotions

Honest

Palms exposed, fingers
extended

Openness, honesty

Charged

Hands/arms waving

Emotional/Committed

Stubborn

Stiff thumb, fingers
straight or forming a fist

Closed off emotionally, won't be
persuaded

Impatient

Drumming or tapping
fingers...

Impatience
Nervousness/insecurity

Fiddling with
jewellery/hair/pen...
Pressured

Nail biting, hand
wringing, fidgeting

Anxiety (feeling pressured),
anger, frustration

Appendix A

Category

261

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

(Possible) Meanings

Bored

Fingers locked, thumbs
twiddling

Bored

Comfortable

Strong flowing
movements,
unmechanical

Feeling comfortable and at ease

Hands behind head, arms
akimbo

Touching

Confident

Steepling with forefingers

Self-assured, confident

Self touching

Touching face....

Uncomfortable, may not be
telling truth

Touching eye or mouth....

May indicate a lie has just been
told

Squeezing or pinching
nose....

Suppressed
discomfort/disagreement

Stiff, upright posture can
indicate insecurity

Discomfort, self-consumed,
selfish

Non touchers

Emotional/physical abuse as
children?
Hard touchers

Touch that squeezes and
hurts

Inner rage/competitiveness

Hand shakers

Comfortable and firm....

Confident and open

Weak and awkward....

Not sure how to 'connect',
insecure, intimidated

Crushing and pain
producing....

Feet

Hostility, attempting dominance

Hand talking

Calm talking with
clenched fists

Dislike, anger or dishonesty

Honest

Together on ground,
facing you....

Openness/honesty

On heel or side....

Dishonesty?

Foot Jiggling

Jiggling/tapping foot

Boredom, wishing to get away

Foot Locking

Wrapping foot around
one leg

Nervousness or feeling
uncomfortable

Ankle Locking

Placing one ankle over
the other

Holding back emotion or
information

262

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Category

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

(Possible) Meanings

Legs

Confident

Legs apart, or together at
knees (women)....

Openness, self-assured

Feet on ground pointing
towards you....

Honesty, frankness, attraction

Legs crossed (knee
directly over knee)

Openness, confidence

Lying

Crossed above the knee

Discomfort, lying

Get-Me-Out-OfHere

Head/torso out of
alignment with feet/legs

Want to leave

Independent

One leg on top of the
other

Unconcerned, independent

Dominant

Stretched out in front
(crossed or not)

Strong willed, bullying?

One-Legged

Lack of attention

Maybe habit, but can indicate
lack of attention

Depressed

Head bowed, shoulder
stoop, eyes down

Sad/depressed

I'm All That

Chin raised, arms
swinging exaggerated

Confidence, superiority,
snobbishness

Timid

Hunched, quiet
movements

Uptight

Rigid, clipped, short
steps, rigid arms

Confident

Even pace, bounce, head
up, relaxed arms

Outdated

Ill-fitting, worn

Poor or not with the times

Unkempt

Stained, smelly, unkempt

Low self-esteem, unconcerned
about self

High-Fashion

Follow latest fads

Want to fit in, insecurity

Sexy

On regular basis....

Sexually/emotionally insecure

On occasional basis....

Seeking sexual attention

On regular basis

Insecurity, low self-esteem

Irregular (or dashes of
colour)

Happy, upbeat, creative

Bland colours

Timid

Walking

Clothes

Loud

Boring

Appendix A

Category

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

Overly Buttoned

263

(Possible) Meanings
Disciplined, well-organised
Rigid/inflexible (jeans pressed,
underwear ironed)

Inappropriate

Tasteful

Hygiene

Cleanliness

Hair Grooming

Nail Grooming
Overly
Meticulous

Wearing inappropriate
clothes on purpose

Belligerence, non-conformist,
rebel, inner hostility

(Sexy clothing at work is
included)

Bullying (but bespeaks
insecurity)

Clean styling (without
being loud)

Self-esteem

....if includes personal
decoration/accessory...

Co-operative, open

Generally

Self-esteem

No make-up (women)

Down-to-earth, open?

Re-applying make-up

Insecurity

Always wear make-up

Low self-esteem

Groomed forward....

Openness

Combed to one side....

Not forthright, insecurity

Constantly changing hair
styles....

Insecurity, seeking identity

Bitten to quick

Insecurity, anxiety
Rigid, inflexible, insecure

264

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Facial Code
Category

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

(Possible) Meanings

Overview

Attraction

Frequent looking

Likes you

Looking for more than 2
seconds....

Really likes you

Enlarged pupils....

Strongly attracted to you

Left to right glancing,
avoiding gaze....

Shyness, trying to hide
attraction

Mirroring smiles,
nodding, copying....

Admiration

If mirroring is mutual
and done a lot....

Falling or in love

Sincerity

Alive, expressive, soft
gaze (not hard or
staring), teeth not
clenched – jaw is
relaxed

Open and honest,
confident, interested

Resignation, Hidden,
Anger/Fear

Deadpan or aloof
expression

Giving up or resigned to
situation

Controlled facial
movements

Hiding anger or fear

Eyes

Friendly

Frequent eye contact

Unfriendly

Avoiding eye contact

Lying

Smiling mouth with
unsmiling eyes

If talking – possible lying

(Honest smile affects
eyes and forehead)

If listening – dislikes what
is being said

Eyes wide (showing
sclera – whites of eyes)

If noticed after asking a
question.... may have
caught person in a lie

Surprised

Eye brows raised
Dropped lower jaw, lips
apart
Scared

Eyebrows together

Fear

Lips drawn back
Angry

Eye scrunched up,
unflickering

Attempting to intimidate,
threaten

Appendix A

Category

265

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

(Possible) Meanings

Staring

..with unchanged
natural or kind
expression....

Sexual advance

..with controlled rigid
expression....

Hostility

Eyes narrow, forehead
furrowed

Unsure

One eyebrow lifted

Undecided

Eyes lifted...

Astonishment

Glance at ceiling or of
disdain....

Disbelief

Sideways glance...

Shyness

...with lowered head....

Flirtation

Eyes downward

Sadness

...When breaking a
gaze....

Submissiveness

Strong direct eye
contact during denial....

Honesty

Doubting

Astonished

Shy

Sad, shameful

I didn't do it
Twitching

Self-consciousness, stress
Awareness of doing
something wrong

Excessive blinking

Avoiding

Raised, knitted or
lowered brows

Lips

Smiling

Generally....

Nervousness, insecurity

When talking to another
person....

Lying or worried about not
being believed

N.B. Do not assume
this means lying; just
sign of discomfort or
something being
withheld

Dislike or
intimidated/defensive

Smiling and quickly
raised/lowered...

Person likes you, is
interested in you

Smiling but eyebrows
are not raised...

Person not bothered about
you

Lowered, knitted
eyebrows

Dislike, anxiety, fear

Corners up, showing
teeth, cheeks raised

Genuine friendliness,
approachability

Lying

266

Category

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

(Possible) Meanings

Tight grin

Dull eyes, cheeks not
raised

Dishonesty?

Inappropriate smiling

...and laughing...

Discomfort, nervousness

Yawning

….if not actually tired….

Boredom
Unwillingness to face
subject or issue

Gulping

...upon hearing news....

Shock or jealousy

...accompanied by tight
grin, dead eyes....

Displeasure

When talking....

Lying

When listening....

Dislike what is being said

Head is still....

Internalised anger

Head is shaking....

Intense anger

When talking...

Nervousness or lying

When listening or
gazing...

Flirting, inviting sexual
attention

Both raised....

Openness, friendliness

One raised (distorted
grin)....

Possible sarcasm

Rubbing cheek....

Doubting

Going red....

Feeling humiliated or
embarrassed

Anger

Jutting forward
(particularly children)...

Defiance or Anger

Fear

Retracting chin so it
rests on neck

Intimidated and fearful

Boredom

Supported by hand...

Trying to be interested

Concentration

Stroking....

Intense concentration

Criticism/Snobbery

Lifting of chin....

Doubt

Rubbing or holding
chin....

Nose

Lying or Holding Back

Touching nose/mouth
area

Ear

Doubting or Confused

Scratching behind
ear....

Hand to mouth

Lip Biting

Lip Licking

Cheek movements

Chin

Disbelief

Appendix A

Category

267

Behaviour

Additional Evidence

(Possible) Meanings

Disbelief

Rubbing ear with thumb
and finger

Person does not believe or
does not want to hear
what is being said

268

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Bibliography, References and
Recommended Reading
The references below – a list of all the works that influenced the
development of this book - have been split into those recognised as
academic works, and those that are more journalist or popular in their
orientations. Some of the journalistic texts (e.g. The Feminine
Mystique, Emotional Intelligence, The Ownership Solution, The Myth of
Male Power etc.) are well researched and brim full of ideas that
academics have, or are now, discussing regularly. Their style,
however, is more journalistic and rhetorical, hence their inclusion in the
first reading list. Recognised academic texts and journal articles are
given in a second list.

For Those With a Casual or Professional
Interest
Berne, E. (1964) Games People Play: the Psychology of Human
Relationships, New York: Penguin.
Bruni, J. (2003) How to Pull Girls: An Insider Guide to Success With
Women, Vermilion.
Collins, J. (2001) Good to Great, London: Random House Business
Books.
Collins, J., Porras, J. (2000) Built to Last: Successful Habits of
Visionary Companies, London: Random House.
Conlon, J. (1994) Proved Innocent: The Story of Gerry Conlon and the
Guildford Four, Penguin Books Ltd
Duberley, E. (2005) Brief Encounters: A Woman’s Guide to Casual Sex,
Fusion Press.
Dworkin, A. (1976) Woman Hating, Dutton Books.
Farrell, W. (1988) Why Men Are the Way They Are: The Definitive
Guide to Love, Sex and Intimacy, Bantam Books.

References

269

Farrell, W. (1994) The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the
Disposable Sex, Berkley Books.
Farrell, W. (2000) Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say,
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Farrell, W. (2001) Father and Child Reunion, Finch.
Farrell, W. (2005) Why Men Earn More, Amacom.
Friedan, B. (1963) The Feminine Mystique, Penguin Books.
Friedan, B. (1980) The Second Stage, London: Michael Joseph.
Gates, J. (1998) The Ownership Solution, Penguin.
Glass, L. (2002) I Know What You’re Thinking, John Wiley & Sons.
Glasser, W. (1998) Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal
Freedom, Harper Perennial.
Goldberg, H. (2000) The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving the Myth of
Masculine Privilege, Wellness Institute.
Goleman, D. (1996) Emotional Intelligence, London: Bloomsbury
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Greer, G. (1999) The Female Eunuch, Flamingo.
Harris, T. (1970) I’m OK – You’re OK, London: PAN.
Harris, T., Harris, A. (1986) Staying OK, London: PAN.
Hoff-Sommers, C. (1995) Who Stole Feminism? How women have
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Hoff-Sommers, C. (2000) The War Against Boys: How Misguided
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India Today (2003) Sex and the Indian Woman, September Cover
Story.
Levy, A. (2005) Female Chauvinist Pigs: The Rise of Raunch Culture,
New York, Free Press.
Lowndes, L. (2002) How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You,
Element.
Lyndon, N. (1992) No More Sex War: The Failures of Feminism,
Sinclair-Stevenson.
Miller, G. (1962), Psychology: The Science of Mental Life, London:
Penguin Books

270

Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy

Molloy, J. (2003) Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others,
Element.
Morrison, R. (1991) We Build the Road as We Travel, New Society
Publishers.
O’Connell, S. (1998) An Investigation into How We Learn to Love and
Lie, Doubleday.
Pease, A., Pease, B. (2004), The Definitive Book of Body Language,
Orion.
Peters, T., Waterman, R. H. (1982) In Search of Excellence, Profile
Books.
Smith, Amelia (2005), Girls Just Want to Marry and Stay Home, UK
Men’s Movement Magazine: February 2005
Sutherland, S. (1992) Irrationality: The Enemy Within, London:
Constable.
Vilar, E. (1999) The Manipulated Man, Pinter & Martin.
Webb, C., Chapian, M. (1985) Forgive Me, Appendix B.
Winston, R (2003) Human Instinct, Bantam Books.

For Those With a Strong or Academic
Interest
AAUW/Greeberg-Lake (1990) Full Data report: Expectations and
Aspirations: Gender Roles and Self-Esteem, American Association
of University Women.
Ackroyd, S., Thompson, P. (1999) Organizational Misbehaviour, Sage
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Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, New York, Academic
Press, 2: 67-300.
Agor, W. H. (ed) (1989) Intuition in Organizations, Newbury Park,
Sage Publications.
Aronson, E. (2003) The Social Animal, Ninth Edition, New York: Worth
Publishers.

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Asch, S. (1951) “Effects of group pressure upon the modification and
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Asch, S. (1955) “Opinions and social pressure”, Scientific American,
193(5): 31-35.
Ashworth, A. E. (1968) “The sociology of trench warfare, 1914-1918”,
The British Journal of Sociology, 1968, p407-423.
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A., BruchonSchweittzer, M. [& 45 additional authors] (1990).
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Buss D. M., Schimitt, D. P. (1993) “Sexual strategies theory: An
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Buss, D. (1994) The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating,
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Index

Index
A
Activation
of emotions ..............................17
Ambiguity
in harassment claims ..............150
Amygdala
emotional memories and ...........20
Assistance
role in relationship development 58
Attention
role in relationship development 58
Autocracy
male/female bonding and........159

B
Battle of the sexes
myths and facts ........................38
Body language .............................44
Bonding
in relationships .........................43
Brain
limbic brain ..............................22
structure of ..............................19

C
Caring
the paradox of..........................74
Caution
in relationships .........................45
Children
as teachers...............................84
Cognitive dissonance ....................17
Confidence
impacts of ................................51
Conflict
impacts of ................................49
Conformance
experiments into.......................30

Controlling ............................. 88, 92
data manipulation................... 115
dynamics of ........................... 116
triggers for...............................89
Courtship
body language signals ..............44
impacts on gender conflict ...... 203
use of violence during............. 201
Cultural knowledge.......................24
Culture
and productivity .......................60
as expressed through emotions .28
as rational behaviour ................24
images of violence.................. 200
impact on emotions ..................20
managing cultural values ..........59

D
Decision making...........................34
emotion during.........................18
Differences
exaggerating gender.................49
understanding ........................ 231
Discipline .....................................84
Disciplining ..................................88
dynamics of ........................... 116
economic impacts ................... 111
feelings during ....................... 108
impacts of .............................. 108
negative impacts of ................ 111
triggers for...............................89
Dominance
during seduction.......................50
Double standards
and emotion........................... 185
cause and effect ..................... 196
exposing with humour ................3
impacts of confronting ............ 185
in sexual conflict..................... 183

References

personal experience of............ 188
raising ................................... 189
raising, impacts of .................. 192
roots of.................................. 195

E
Economics
negative impacts of disciplining111
Emergent leaders ............... 141, 158
Emotional intelligence............. 19, 25
stories of..................................23
Emotional mirroring......................88
Emotions
and commitment ......................90
and expectations ......................17
and leadership........................ 152
and maturity ............................34
as culture.................................28
attention focus .........................32
closing thoughts ..................... 245
distributed power and ............. 125
during induction .......................65
during interviews......................62
during policy debates................68
during sexual conflict180, 195, 199
emotion management...............28
friendship and ..........................88
impact of disciplining .............. 108
impacts of group behaviour.......60
impacts on perception......... 30, 32
learning from ......................... 183
managers and ..........................17
mirroring..................................88
primitive or evolved? ................60
self-defense and..................... 110
sex discrimination................... 149
sexual caution ..........................39
showing and hiding ..................85
summary .................................35
tracking down the source of ......87
understanding ..........................88
what are they? .........................15
Equality
contemporary views of............ 193
enforcing ............................... 240
men's movement and .................7

277

obstacles to ........................... 195
women's movement and........... 38
Equity ......................................... 47
during seduction ...................... 51
in relationships......................... 48
threats to................................. 91
Exclusion ................................... 125
Experimental psychology
limitations in ............................ 31

F
False accusations ...........................8
Fear
emotions and ........................... 86
freedom from......................... 122
Feelings
hiding and showing ................ 231
First impressions
changing ................................. 42
Flirting
contemporary views ...................7
Focussing
as a result of emotion............... 33
Followers
leaders and............................ 144

G
Gender
switching ............................... 184

H
Harassment
high-trust relationships and..... 151
reverse processes................... 148
Hazing....................................... 146
Hierarchy
alternatives to ........................ 119
development of ...................... 150
Humour
as a way of exposing sexism .......3
impacts of................................ 68
Hypocrisy
understanding.......................... 91

I
Identity ..................................... 227

Index

Ideology
constructing a new view..........234
reconstructing ........................233
Inclusion
as a form of social control .......122
Instincts
development of ........................20
limbic brain ..............................22
sexual behaviour and ................39
Intimacy ....................................225
and career development..........227
development of ........................58
links to control and discipline.....90
Irrationality ..................................18
culture and...............................24

L
Laughter
as social status .......................144
cultural meaning of ...................28
leaders and ............................145
Law
impacts of ..............................234
Leaders
creation by followers...............149
dynamics around ....................225
followers and..........................144
the process of creating............142
Leaders and followers .................154
relationship between...............160
Leadership
and emotions .........................152
backstage dynamics................157
introduction to........................130
redefining...............................158
top-down and bottom-up ........139
Love
impacts of overcoming adversity246

M
Management
knowledge of seduction and ......76
Maturity
emotions and .......................9, 86
Mediation...................................232

compulsion and ...................... 233
during sexual conflicts ............ 195
Memory
emotional memory....................21
Mondragon cooperatives............. 120
Morality
rhetorical use of .......................91

N
Neocortex
rational knowledge ...................22

P
Power
changing definitions of............ 131
over intimacy ......................... 144
the five components of ........... 138
Powerlessness............................ 158
comparing men's and women's
experience of...................... 184
men and ................................ 131
Productivity
culture and ..............................60
Professionalism
moral claims and .................... 105
suppression of emotion and ......34

R
Reciprocity
during seduction.......................51
in relationships .........................48
threats to.................................91
Recruitment
critical reflections on.................63
emotion during.........................61
Rewards and punishment
in culture development .............21
Rituals
interpretting ........................... 147

S
Seduction ....................................41
as mutual learning....................77
at company events ...................66
corporate seduction ..................59

References

counter-intuitive behaviours ......49
during selling ...........................70
equity and reciprocity ...............51
impact of neediness..................48
in business...............................52
popular conceptions of..............50
reactions to..............................73
stage four ................................76
stages of, during socialisation....66
understanding ..........................48
using knowledge of...................76
Self-esteem
suppressed data about............ 197
Selling
physical attraction and..............71
Sensations ...................................35
Sex discrimination ..........................8
legal changes ......................... 194
legal definition of.................... 178
men's views of ....................... 148
Sexual banter.................................5
impacts of .............................. 170
responding to......................... 180
Sexual conflict............................ 164
a story of ............................... 165
courtship and ......................... 202
double standards in ................ 183
interpretting ........................... 180
interventions into ................... 174
legal advice and ..................... 177
management of ...................... 195
management responses to ...... 205
Sexual harassment
case study.............................. 188
levels of .....................................6
Sexual power ...............................40
Sexual relationships
contemporary views....................7
in novels ..................................39

279

management skills and ...............9
Sexuality
centrality of ........................... 224
Social acceptance....................... 225
Social conflict
critical reflections on............... 104
Social control ............................... 84
alternatives............................ 120
and productivity ..................... 124
summary ............................... 126
Speaking up
equality and...............................8
Story telling
as relationship building ............. 43
Submission
during seduction ...................... 50
Suicide
as powerlessness ................... 185

T
Teasing
views of................................. 166
Threats and opportunities............. 19
Trackdown
understanding emotions ........... 87
Truth telling................................. 31
and emotion ............................ 31

V
Violence
cultural images....................... 199
genetic or social? ................... 197
impact on sexual relationships 196
impacts of beliefs about.......... 201
two-gender studies................. 197

W
Women's movement
impact of ............................... 182

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